‘Terrible Fail’: Child Psychologist Condemns Release of 911 Recordings in Nova Scotia
Public outrage and disgust is spreading over a magazine’s decision to release leaked audio recordings of 911 calls made the night the shooting in Nova Scotia began last April.
The audio, released Wednesday night by Frank Magazine, included a call made by Jamie Blair, who, along with her husband Greg, was murdered in Portapique, Nova Scotia on April 18, 2020.
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The magazine also released the audio of a 911 call made by Greg and Jamie’s 12-year-old son moments after seeing his parents murdered.
âIt’s a terrible failure,â said Tracy Vaillancourt, child psychologist and Canada Research Chair in Mental Health and Violence Prevention in Schools.
âI can’t imagine how anyone would think this is ethical or morally appropriateâ¦ We are exploiting the distress of individuals and especially the distress of a child who is having the worst time of his life. And we are voyeurs of this worst moment.
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Police, politicians and victims’ families were quick to condemn the magazine’s decision to release the audio, with many saying they were disgusted.
Late Thursday, Frank Magazine removed audio from its public website and placed it behind a pay wall, meaning only subscribers can listen.
Andrew Douglas, editor-in-chief of the magazine, told Global News in an email that the decision was made following a request from the families of the victims.
Douglas also reportedly told CTV that he had received several notices regarding possible legal action if the audio was not removed.
âRobert Pineo, the family lawyer, has requested that we remove the audio,â Douglas said in the email to Global News. “Of course that wasn’t going to happen.”
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Douglas said he was ready to put audio behind the magazine’s paywall, making it “off-limits to casual viewers / listeners”. He said Pineo and a very upset family member thought it was a “good idea”.
âInitially, we believed that we couldn’t be seen to be taking advantage of this material and that we would be doing the public a service by providing unhindered access to material that is in the public interest,â said Douglas.
“But in the end, putting it behind the paywall ended up being a way to make at least some of the family feel a little better, so we were happy to do that.”
Request to remove audio
Jon Farrington, whose parents Frank and Dawn Gulenchyn were murdered in Portapique on April 18, said he was mortified when he discovered the 911 calls had been made public.
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He said Frank Magazine did not warn him in advance and learned of the Facebook post.
âI’m just mad,â Farrington said.
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One of the published 911 calls was made by a witness who described seeing the Gulenchyn’s house on fire with a police car identified in front.
Farrington said hearing the audio of the call and the description of the fire at his parents’ house triggered painful memories, caused a panic attack and caused nightmares to return.
âI immediately went back in time,â he says. “It makes healing impossible.”
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Farrington said he was considering legal action, if any, he could take to have the audio removed completely. He also believes the government should do everything possible to find out who leaked the confidential 911 tapes.
âIt shouldn’t have happened,â Farrington said. âWe have enough battles and enough legal proceedings to deal with. “
There is also a growing online petition to have audio removed from Frank Magazine’s website. The petition, launched Thursday, had collected more than 5,100 signatures by Friday afternoon.
The RCMP said Thursday they were investigating who may have disclosed the 911 calls.
Frank Magazine’s rationale for publishing the audio recordings is that it is “in the public interest”.
An online article that accompanied the audio alleges that the tapes show the RCMP were engaged in a cover-up of what they knew about the shooter, Gabriel Wortman, the night the killing began.
A review of audio and call transcripts released by Frank Magazine reveals that at least three witnesses told 911 operators that the person shooting that night was driving a police vehicle.
Jamie Blair, who was killed moments after watching her husband murdered, said the gunman was a ‘denturist’ who drove police cars, adding that the vehicle he was using that night was a car. RCMP marked patrol.
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Another witness, the only person to survive the gunman’s shot that night, told 911 operators that the person who shot him was a neighbor named “Gabe”, and explained that he was driving a vehicle. from police.
The RCMP previously said they did not hear of the fully identified RCMP vehicle the gunman was driving until the gunman’s common-law partner emerged from the woods at 6:30 a.m. on April 19. It was at least eight hours after 911. Calls published by Frank Magazine were said to have been made.
But various news agencies, including Global News, previously reported details in court documents that show police were told the night the killing began that the shooter was driving a marked police vehicle.
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This information includes statements made to the first RCMP officers who arrived at the scene in Portapique at 10:26 p.m. on April 18. These statements were made by the same witness heard in one of the audio recordings published by Frank Magazine.
Although the audio recordings provide additional evidence to support the claim that police knew early in the investigation that the gunman was driving a marked police vehicle, Farrington believes the audio should never have been released.
He said those extra details were not worth the horror of having to relive that moment when his parents were killed.
âWe can’t even make calls to try to save lives without it being exploited,â Farrington said. “It’s just sickening.”
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