Crown prosecutor cross-examines long-time Winnipeg police officer accused of assault
WINNIPEG -- A long-time Winnipeg police officer accused of an assault during an arrest was back in court on Wednesday, answering questions about the arrest that happened four years ago.
Patrol Sgt. Sean Cassidy, an officer of 24 years, is facing one count of assault causing bodily harm in connection with an arrest in Winnipeg during the early hours of March 28, 2017.
The charge has not been proven in court. Cassidy has pleaded not guilty.
In his cross-examination with Crown Prosecutor Brett Rach, Cassidy told the court he had been returning to his home in La Salle driving his minivan on the night of March 27, 2017, when he spotted a truck in the area.
Finding it suspicious given the time of night, Cassidy said he followed the truck.
"It did a very aggressive violent U-turn, shooting gravel everywhere, and then started chasing me," Cassidy told the court on Wednesday.
"I took over 30 or 40 turns trying to get away from the truck, so I took every means possible to try to out run the truck."
Rach said Cassidy did not at any point in La Salle identify himself as a police officer to the driver of the truck. Cassidy said this was because he had been on the phone with 911.
Court heard the truck followed Cassidy out of La Salle, into Winnipeg—all the way Cassidy said he kept the truck behind him, fearing the possibility that driver might have had a weapon.
He told the court at two times during the chase he used civilian vehicles to keep the truck from passing him.
"I suggest you created the unsafe driving situation, and it was actually you who were driving dangerously that evening," Rach said.
"That is totally false," Cassidy responded.
Court heard at one point the truck turned off the Perimeter Highway onto a dirt road and headed into Winnipeg on St. Mary's Road.
Cassidy said he followed the truck—driving in the opposite lanes of traffic along the Perimeter Highway, though he said there was no traffic at the time.
"The truck is no longer following you and the next thing your mind turns to is that you want these people held accountable," Rach said.
"Yes," Cassidy responded, adding he wanted them arrested for assault and dangerous driving.
"You felt that you were the victim of an attack?" Rach said.
"Yes," Cassidy responded.
Court heard when a single marked police car pulled the truck over on St. Mary's Road—Cassidy took part in the arrest despite having no handcuffs, because he believed there might have been weapons in the truck and wanted to help the officers.
"I suggest you decided you were going to be the contact officer because you knew already, regardless of whatever the suspect did, you were going to use force against him," Rach said.
"No, I reacted to what he did," Cassidy said.
The court heard during the arrest—Cassidy punched the driver two times in the head—once because he saw a metallic object in the driver's hands that he believed to be a weapon. The object was later determined to be a vape pen.
The court heard the second punch was when the driver turtled while Cassidy and another officer attempted to handcuff him.
"You were emotional. You were angry when you punched him," Rach said.
"No," Cassidy responded.
"You punched him because you believed he had assaulted you," Rach said.
"No," Cassidy responded again. "Not at all."
Court heard previously the driver of the truck—Jamie Cote—was released on scene with no charges.
The Crown and defence are expected to make their closing arguments in the case in April.