On February 15, 2016, RCMP Constable Jeffrey Rae Gillis, a 20-year veteran and member of the National Weapons Enforcement Support Team, found himself on the wrong end of his own handcuffs.
After Charlottetown Police Service constables attended his residence February 11 and 14, 2016, for disturbance calls, they charged Constable Gillis with two counts of assault and one count of uttering threats.
They also applied for and were granted a search warrant, and returned to his home. They seized over 70 firearms, an unspecified amount of ammunition and “other weapons.”
The firearms were initially seized based on a public safety concern, not criminal conduct, but after police found cases of ammunition, Restricted and Prohibited firearms stored unsafely, they charged Gillis with 12 criminal offences:
- unlawful storage of firearms;
- possession of firearms obtained by an offence;
- unlawful possession of firearms;
- unlawful possession of prohibited firearms together with ammunition;
- unlawful possession of restricted firearms together with ammunition;
- unlawful possession of prohibited weapons;
- five counts of filing false reports with a peace officer about the destruction of firearms; and
- breach of trust.
Gillis was immediately suspended from active duty, with pay, and joined the ranks of RCMP members on taxpayer-funded vacations. At least in his case, the paid holiday was short-lived. According to the RCMP, Gillis voluntarily retired from the force shortly after his arrest.
When his case came before Chief Judge Nancy Orr, Gillis pleaded guilty to a single charge of assault. In exchange, Crown prosecutors dropped a second assault charge and another for uttering threats.
Gillis’ family had urged him to seek treatment for his psychological problems for years, but he refused. Only after his arrest did he finally do so.
Judge Orr sentenced him to 30 days in jail for the assault conviction.
Then came the criminal trial on the gun charges before Judge Jeff Lantz.
He tried and failed to have the search warrant thrown out of court. His trial took place in March, 2017, and that’s when interesting information came to light. Interesting for mere citizens like me and, perhaps you.
As part of his duties with the National Weapons Enforcement Unit, Constable Gillis was responsible for destroying firearms seized by police. Instead of doing his job, he kept the guns instead.He also filed false police reports to cover up his thefts.
The initial investigation report stated he had over 70 guns in his possession at the time of his arrest. The final tally was over 100 firearms in all three classifications – Non-restricted, Restricted and Prohibited.
Crown attorney Gerald Quinn told the court it would take a small truck to move all of the ammunition police seized from Gillis’s home.
Gillis was convicted on five charges and Judge Lantz sentenced him to 3 years in prison in May, 2017. Lantz conditionally stayed the seven remaining charges.
Gillis applied for and was granted full parole in December, 2017, after serving just seven months of his sentence.
Membership has its privileges. Yes, even for convicted gun-stealing ex-RCMP constables.