Yesterday was another difficult day for my "other" family, the police family that will always be a part of me. Erik Czapnik, at 51 years old the same age as me, a member of the Ottawa Police Service, was stabbed to death yesterday morning at 5:30 am. He was doing one of those routine tasks, writing up his notes after a matter that took him to an Emergency Room. He had finished and was sitting in his car in the parking lot, writing up his notes, when he was attacked and stabbed. Despite being outside of a hospital Emergency Room he was mortally wounded and died despite the best efforts of those trying to save him.
He was a father, a husband, and immigrant to Canada. He only joined the Ottawa Police Service two years ago, following in the footsteps of his father in Poland, who policed in Poland for many year. It was another senseless death of a police officer, always a difficult pill to swallow.
What makes this incident doubly hard to take, so much so that I have a hard time finding the words to convey how I feel, is that his assailant is a Member of the RCMP, albeit one currently suspended without pay but still. It is hard enough to understand how these things happen at the best of times, but I can't fathom what would compel one policeman to murder another one, no matter how ill they might be.
The indications are that Cst Gregson is an ill man. In 2007, a week before Cst Czapnik was joining the Ottawa PS, Gregson was in a court in Regina, being sentenced for threatening the life of a Mormon Church Bishop with a knife. He was given a Conditional Discharge because he had been diagnosed with brain cysts, undergoing surgery some time later. He has been suspended from the Force since that incident.
If this all sounds apologetic because the man is a Mountie, it isn't meant to be. I can't fathom how Cst Czapnik's family must feel, and I can not fathom how another police officer could do this. Gregson needs to be held responsible for this act, and if he isn't criminally responsible because of some illness then he needs to be held securely to ensure his condition won't result in another death.
This is a tragedy on many levels, I only wish I could frame some words that would help. To help make sense of it all.