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Dead End: An investigation gone wrong - The Fifth Estate

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23:16   |   Apr 07, 2019

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Dead End: An investigation gone wrong - The Fifth Estate
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  • [♪♪]
  • [phone ringing]
  • What is your emergency?
  • I need an ambulance.
  • Immediately.
  • Do you have a patient name?
  • Jake Richard Hughes.
  • Last name, H-U-G-H-E-S.
  • I miss everything.
  • He always told me how much he loved his life.
  • I love my life, mom.
  • I can still hear it.
  • [Mark] It's been six-and-a-half years since Jake Hughes'
  • traumatic death after an ATV accident.
  • What happened that day has become the subject
  • of an investigation involving four police forces,
  • a seemingly unending mystery.
  • Oh and here's that supplementary report,
  • that's full of errors by the OPP.
  • [Mark] These boxes represent the fight his parents have
  • been waging ever since.
  • to set the record straight about how their son died
  • and who is to blame for his death.
  • Because my son wasn't responsible for his own death
  • and somebody else was.
  • So, I think that boy needs to be held accountable for it.
  • And that's what we're trying to get across now,
  • because this could happen to many families.
  • [Mark] Jake's was a life interrupted.
  • Once he graduated high school, his plans were set in motion,
  • study criminology then move on to a career as a cop.
  • JAKE HUGHES!
  • [Mark] But the future could wait.
  • He'd been invited to a cottage for an end
  • of summer celebration.
  • his mother urged him to go.
  • And his girlfriend kept calling him on the phone
  • and he wasn't even packed.
  • He had everything lined up on his bed and I still
  • remember it clear as day.
  • He said, I don't want to go on this trip because none of my
  • friends are going.
  • And I told him to go.
  • Cause I, he had worked so hard all summer and I wanted him to
  • enjoy the last weekend before university started.
  • I carry terrible guilt.
  • [Mark] It was August 20th, 2012.
  • Ten teenagers on a lake near Haliburton, Ontario.
  • After lunch, all the friends saw Jake jump onto the
  • back of an ATV.
  • Eighteen-year-old Taylor Rivando was driving.
  • The ATV headed into the woods.
  • Moments later, Taylor came running out in a panic.
  • Jake was badly hurt.
  • A frantic effort to keep Jake alive simply ran out of time.
  • When the Ontario provincial police officers arrived,
  • they needed to determine was this an accident or
  • was it something more?
  • The key question, who was driving?
  • In his statement to the OPP, Taylor said,
  • we had no time to react.
  • We seen it, split second.
  • He was asked, were you driving the ATV?
  • His answer?
  • No.
  • For the OPP, it was an open and shut case.
  • by the next day they'd concluded Jake was the driver.
  • After all, there were only two witnesses to the crash.
  • And one of them was dead.
  • And it's the oldest trick in the book.
  • You talk to any police officer.
  • If there's two people and no witnesses around and one of them
  • dies, they always blame it on the dead person.
  • It's the easy way out.
  • Because who's there to defend him and
  • to say that didn't happen?
  • [Mark] Jake's dad Sam was suspicious, maybe
  • because Sam is a cop.
  • 15 years with the Niagara Regional Police Service.
  • As Sam got his hands on the details of that OPP
  • investigation, he was left with more questions than answers.
  • We're starting to get information from the FOI,
  • freedom of information.
  • We're starting to get, you know, kids' statements.
  • We're starting to get people's statements in and even
  • all the statements are inconsistent.
  • Nobody's making sense.
  • And the more we read into it, the worse it got.
  • So, and we, every step of the way we kept telling the OPP,
  • this is isn't making sense.
  • This isn't making sense.
  • And they just ignored it all.
  • What were you hearing back as you're telling the OPP
  • this isn't making sense?
  • They, they said, based on our conclusions,
  • we think Jake was driving.
  • [Mark] Sam had a hunch,
  • so he staged his own re-creation of the accident.
  • Maybe Taylor was driving and ducked down to avoid
  • the iron gate, leaving Jake to absorb the impact.
  • The OPP said it was impossible for the driver to have ducked.
  • So Sam used three different drivers of three different
  • heights and weights, to prove it was possible.
  • Sam also noted there was a scuff on the red helmet Taylor
  • was wearing and red paint left on the gate,
  • consistent with the theory Taylor ducked as
  • he drove under the gate.
  • The OPP never tested the helmet or the red paint on the gate.
  • They had conclusions set before even all the evidence was taken.
  • And now because, maybe because I am a cop,
  • and telling them what they're doing and what they should be
  • doing, they got defensive, stuck their heels in.
  • [Mark] What troubled Sam was if a fellow cop can't get answers
  • from the OPP, how in the world would anybody else be able to
  • challenge the findings of any police investigation?
  • [phone ringing]
  • [Mark] We started looking into the OPP investigation, too.
  • We began with that desperate 911 call for help.
  • [Mark] We learned the man with the accent is
  • a prominent British businessman who was
  • on vacation in Canada with his family.
  • We contacted him by Skype.
  • His name is Alastair Mills.
  • He was driving by when he saw an ATV abandoned on the road.
  • [Alastair Mills] So, I walked past the ATV.
  • The engine was still on.
  • Past the gate and that's when I saw the body lying on the floor.
  • [Mark] Alastair asked what happened but he says Taylor's
  • explanations didn't add up so he left it to the police
  • to sort it all out.
  • [Alastair Mills] On the one hand, there was the implication
  • that he'd ducked under the gate and stayed on the ATV.
  • But, I specifically remember him also saying that he jumped off,
  • came off the ATV before it got to the gate.
  • So, at that stage, I was thinking,
  • hang on, this is a bit weird because we're seeing,
  • we're hearing two different things here.
  • [Mark] The second person on the scene was JC Chretien.
  • He was on the beach with his family when Taylor ran
  • out shouting for help.
  • JC ran immediately to Jake's side.
  • JC was puzzled when Taylor couldn't explain how exactly
  • he'd survived the accident.
  • What was it that was making you all suspicious?
  • [Jean-Charles] Uh, I think just him not being able
  • to say what happened.
  • You know, he didn't have a story right.
  • What did he say?
  • [Jean-Charles] Uh, specifically he said, 'I didn't see it.'
  • Or, 'I saw it last second.
  • I ducked.'
  • I saw it last second and I ducked.
  • 'I think', he said.
  • And that's what he said, 'I think.'
  • [Mark] Perhaps he was dazed, perhaps he was in shock.
  • But when Taylor gave his statement to the OPP,
  • once again, a different version.
  • Did you duck down?
  • The police asked?
  • No.
  • I didn't have time to do anything.
  • My name is Taylor Rivando.
  • [Mark] Taylor's story was a moving target,
  • so we set out to talk to him and his friends at the
  • cottage that weekend.
  • This is a picture of the group taken at the cottage the night
  • before the accident.
  • We reached out to all 9 of them by phone
  • and by Facebook.
  • [Mark] Taylor, hi!
  • This is Mark Kelley calling from the CBC program,
  • The Fifth Estate.
  • [Mark] We were met by a wall of silence.
  • Jake's mom says it may be easy for everyone else to move on
  • from that day but she can't.
  • Our son's death has fallen through the chain of command
  • and it's not just within the OPP but the government.
  • No one wants to take ownership of
  • our son's death investigation.
  • [Mark] Coming up, a second police investigation puts
  • Taylor Rivando in the crosshairs.
  • I imagine that you've had three years of sleepless nights.
  • I imagine that you've thought about this for three years,
  • I mean, you've got a young man who's killed,
  • dead, lying right there on the side of the road.
  • [Mark] And a key witness-- -I know who was on the back.
  • [Mark] Confirms a crucial piece of evidence
  • in the investigation.
  • That's Jake.
  • Yeah.
  • That looks to you the boy who was on the back?
  • Yeah.
  • [♪♪]
  • And this is?
  • -This is Jake's room. -Jake's room, as he left it?
  • No, not quite.
  • His friends bring things over and we keep adding to it.
  • He would say, mum, there's so much junk in here.
  • His, Sam's brother, Mark, prepared this for his memorial.
  • So, we have it up every year at his memorial.
  • His friends did all of this for the funeral.
  • I kind of brought everything up here after he died.
  • [Mark] Jake Hughes' bedroom at his parents' home
  • has become a shrine to a life cut short.
  • And um, this is his urn.
  • This is his urn?
  • Yeah, so, this picture down here,
  • uh, Sam had bought him that football for Christmas.
  • That was his last Christmas with us and he was so excited.
  • So, when he died, Sam had this and the funeral director
  • designed this urn, in memory of Jake.
  • And these are Jake's shoes that he wore the day he was killed.
  • These were his favourite shoes--
  • [Mark] Pearl Hughes can't let go of the shoes he was wearing when
  • he died, after the ATV he was on smashed into an iron gate.
  • Sam can't let go of the fact the OPP determined Jake was driving
  • and Jake was to blame for the accident.
  • Sam's a cop losing faith in the cops.
  • Well, being a police officer you'd expect they'd
  • do their job.
  • I would do my job.
  • The public expect us to do that job.
  • If the, evidence is there, without a doubt,
  • how could you ignore it?
  • Like, that looks terrible on a police force.
  • So, yeah, I'm very angry with the OPP.
  • I thought, especially being a police officer they
  • would help us.
  • [Mark] Under pressure from the Hughes, the OPP finally took
  • a second look at their investigation, staging
  • a re-creation of the accident months after Jake's death.
  • In his statement to the OPP, Taylor said he
  • wasn't thrown from the ATV.
  • But watch what happens when two riders hit the gate.
  • In test after test, the mannequin riding on the back
  • where Taylor said he was, is thrown violently from the ATV.
  • But according to the two independent witnesses at
  • the scene, Taylor was shaken but otherwise seemed fine.
  • Did he appear hurt when you saw him?
  • No. No, I inspected him actually.
  • I was like, after you know, just checking,
  • all smooth, didn't have a mark.
  • And didn't like, nothing happened to him.
  • [Alastair] I remember looking down on him and thinking,
  • this guy doesn't have a scratch on him.
  • And how did he manage to dismount from this ATV,
  • presumably at speed, land on this patch of ground that he
  • pointed towards and, I guess he must have landed just on 2 feet.
  • You know, which is, which is nothing less than miraculous.
  • So, I couldn't reconcile that in my mind.
  • [Mark] Pushed by the Hughes, the OPP also decided to interview
  • all 8 friends who were with Jake and Taylor at the cottage that
  • fateful weekend, to ask them who was driving the ATV
  • when it crashed.
  • From what I saw my one buddy was driving it first,
  • he was on the beach, Taylor Rivando--
  • Taylor Rivando? Okay.
  • --and then they switched on the beach,
  • my buddy Jake Hughes, he had no shirt on so he switched
  • and he was driving.
  • -Did you see the switch? -Yes.
  • [Mark] Two of the 8 friends say they saw Jake driving...
  • Okay, and you could tell that it was Jake driving?
  • Yeah.
  • How can you tell me that it was Jake driving?
  • They slowed down beside us and just kind of said,
  • hey, like laughed and then kept going.
  • [Mark] We shared that information with
  • Jennifer Chretien who was sitting on the beach and saw
  • the ATV turn up the trail, seconds before the crash.
  • Two of Taylor's friends who were there at the cottage with him
  • that weekend-- Yeah.
  • --told police that while they were on the beach,
  • close to you, they actually saw Jake and Taylor trade places.
  • So Jake was driving, while they were on the beach.
  • They said, we saw them.
  • -Oh-- -They switched on the beach.
  • And then they turned up. Oh.
  • No.
  • There was nobody else on the beach.
  • I know who was on the back.
  • At the time I didn't know which boy was which.
  • But um I remember the boy on the back having tattoos.
  • It was a very specific memory because when I was watching
  • them drive along on the beach and turn up,
  • I admired the tattoos.
  • I was just, like, in my head, I literally was like,
  • oh, cool tattoos!
  • So yeah.
  • I mean, that agrees with my memory--
  • [Mark] Jake had the tattoo on his back.
  • Taylor did not.
  • And Jennifer Chretien is adamant Jake was the passenger.
  • In 2016, following complaints from the Hughes family,
  • the OIPRD, that's Ontario's police watchdog,
  • ordered a review of the OPP investigation by the
  • Peel Regional Police.
  • It was scathing.
  • Peel Regional Police staff sergeant Gary Carty said the
  • investigation was marred by 'a lack of scientific testing,'
  • poor collection of evidence and testing methodologies
  • that were flawed.
  • Carty notes the OPP even misspelled Taylor Rivando's
  • name throughout their report.
  • The report concludes, in all likelihood,
  • Hughes was seated in the rear passenger seat.
  • It's rare to hear police interrogating police but listen,
  • as Carty takes aim at the OPP officers who
  • investigated Jake's death.
  • [Mark] In the end, 4 OPP officers who investigated
  • Jake's death were charged with misconduct for
  • their shoddy investigation.
  • So, given the flawed OPP investigation,
  • could it be that Taylor Rivando had walked free
  • from any accountability in the death of Jake Hughes?
  • Peel Staff Sergeant Gary: We're in an interview room here in the
  • Ottawa Police service.
  • My name is Gary Carty...
  • [Mark] That's what led Carty to do something the OPP never did.
  • he challenged Taylor Rivando on his version of events.
  • I get to the end of the beach. I stop.
  • I ask Jake if he would like to drive.
  • He says yes.
  • We switch spots...
  • [Mark] With his lawyer by his side, Taylor insists Jake
  • was driving the ATV.
  • But Carty isn't buying it.
  • When you're asked the question, 'Who's driving?,'
  • you say, 'He was'.
  • The evidence points to you, and I know you've been living with
  • this now for a long time, okay, and I know this is
  • burdensome for you, but it's not going to change the evidence,
  • the evidence is never going to change.
  • There is no doubt in my mind...
  • Mr. He's already given you his evidence.
  • I recognize that this has been a hard time for you,
  • it's been three years, probably three years in hell.
  • I imagine you've had three years of sleepless nights.
  • I imagine that you've thought about this for three years,
  • I mean, you've got a young man who's killed,
  • dead, lying right there on the side of the road.
  • [Mark] Carty leaves the room after suggesting Taylor
  • should take a polygraph test.
  • I can't take the polygraph.
  • No, no, don't worry about that.
  • Don't worry about that.
  • He's just saying a lot of stuff that, like,
  • it's not going to apply to you.
  • It doesn't matter.
  • What stuff?
  • Oh, who knows. We haven't even looked at it.
  • He's just saying stuff to scare you.
  • [Mark] When Carty comes back, he shows Taylor
  • the survivor, a picture of Jake's lifeless body.
  • See, at the end of the day, this is what we're dealing with.
  • Lawyer: He probably doesn't want to look at that.
  • That's his friend.
  • Why doesn't he want to look at it?
  • That's his friend who passed away.
  • That's not his friend, he barely knew him.
  • Look at him. This is the boy--
  • Lawyer: He doesn't want to look at that--
  • This is what we're here for, we're here about
  • the family of the dead kid getting closure.
  • The dead kid's family needs closure.
  • Lawyer: He doesn't need to look at the picture.
  • -He has-- alleged... -Officer Carty, what's up?
  • Hey, what's up with this is-- the evidence is--
  • -I'm showing him the evidence. -You need to stop.
  • You need to stop.
  • [Mark] We wanted to talk to Taylor, too.
  • We tracked him down to this house but then
  • someone phoned the police on us.
  • A man then confronted us as we waited.
  • [Mark] They've done two and now
  • they're doing a third as we speak.
  • Well, it's been almost two weeks now since we've
  • been trying to get in touch with Taylor Rivando.
  • We believe he's living with his girlfriend just
  • around the corner.
  • While we're waiting for him, somebody came home,
  • we believe to be Taylor's girlfriend's father,
  • told us to get off private property.
  • We weren't on it.
  • And had a very angry exchange with us.
  • [Mark] In the end, this story is about more than
  • just who was driving that ATV.
  • The relentless pursuit by the Hughes family has prompted the
  • OPP to reform the way it handles sudden death investigations.
  • Every time we go there they apologize, apologize.
  • They changed all their training because of this accident.
  • There were three-tier sign off system because of this accident.
  • They want us to go talk to the OPP new recruits
  • about this accident.
  • But they don't want to change the accident.
  • They don't want to change the outcome of their investigation.
  • They don't want to change anything.
  • They still want to blame Jake.
  • But I guess a lot of people will want to know,
  • what difference does it make for you both to have the police say,
  • okay, it was actually Jake who was the passenger.
  • It's not gonna bring Jake back.
  • We know this.
  • It's closure, for us.
  • [Mark] On that key question, Sam tells us about
  • a major breakthrough.
  • The OPP has called in the Mounties to review the case.
  • The RCMP has now taken over.
  • Have they agreed that they will?
  • Apparently, yes.
  • We have it in writing now.
  • We were supposed to have results by June 1st,
  • with the RCMP's conclusion.
  • By June 1st?
  • That's what they're saying.
  • We should have a full report, written by RCMP by June 1st,
  • as to who was driving the ATV.
  • [Mark] But even after that review is complete,
  • there are bound to be some unanswered questions.
  • But after four police investigations,
  • maybe then, Jake can finally rest in peace.
  • And maybe then, so too will his parents.
  • That's for sure the gate.
  • The yellow, that's where they cut the chain
  • when they worked on Jake.
  • I can't believe that sliced his neck.
  • [Pearl] So sad.
  • I thought they would have got rid of it.
  • I'm gonna put another band on the rubber thing.
  • [Pearl sniffling]
  • [♪♪]

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Description

Two young men were on an ATV at a cottage near Haliburton, Ont., in August 2012 when it crashed into a steel gate, leaving one dead and the other unscathed. What happened that day has become the subject of an almost seven-year investigation involving four different police forces. The father of the teen who died is committed to exposing what he believes is a bungled OPP investigation.

To read more: https://www.cbc.ca/1.5085073

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About the fifth estate : For four decades The Fifth Estate has been Canada's premier investigative documentary program. Hosts Bob McKeown, Habiba Nosheen, Gillian Findlay and Mark Kelley continue a tradition of provocative and fearless journalism. the fifth estate brings in-depth investigations that matter to Canadians – delivering a dazzling parade of political leaders, controversial characters and ordinary people whose lives were touched by triumph or tragedy.

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