Winnipeg police officers give testimony in trial of off-duty officer charged with assault
Source: Josh Crabb/ CTV News
WINNIPEG -- Two Winnipeg police officers who were first on the scene where a man alleges he was assaulted during an arrest four years ago gave their testimony in court—saying they didn't see the accused use force in the arrest.
The trial of Winnipeg police officer Sean Cassidy continued in a Manitoba court on Wednesday. Cassidy has been charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm, dating back to an incident that occurred on the evening of March 27, 2017, and the early hours of March 28, 2017.
The charge has not been proven in court. Cassidy has pleaded not guilty.
Detective Constable Brody Kiez of the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) told the court on Wednesday he was on general patrol with his partner, Const. Chris Rivard, that night.
Kiez told the court they received a ‘Priority Zero’ dispatch—the highest priority of the WPS—at around 1 a.m. on March 28, 2017. The dispatch said that an off-duty officer—later identified as Cassidy—needed assistance and was being followed.
Kiez told the court he and Rivard drove to the area, pulled into a parking lot along St. Mary’s Road and waited for the vehicles—a truck and a van—to pass them.
Kiez said he and Rivard discussed that this would be treated as a high-risk stop, as they didn't know if the individuals were violent or armed.
Kiez said the Winnipeg police helicopter Air1 was in the area during this time.
When the vehicles drove by, Kiez said they pulled out and activated the emergency lights.
“The truck slammed on its brakes, and the driver’s door swung open. The driver leapt from the vehicle in an aggressive manner,” Kiez told the court, adding he had never seen something like this happen before during a traffic stop.
“It was a scary moment at that point in time for us.”
In their testimonies, both officers said they got out of the vehicle, pulled their firearms in the ready position and yelled, “Winnipeg Police. Show me your hands.”
"The male just glared at us, and retreated back into the vehicle," Rivard told the court on Wednesday.
Rivard told the court he saw an off-duty officer, later identified as Cassidy, go to the driver’s side of the truck and yell, "Winnipeg Police. Show me your hands."
He said his view was obstructed by Cassidy, but he could see the driver open the door. He said there was a short struggle before the driver was pulled from the truck and put on the ground.
Rivard said he arrived to the driver who had put his hands under his body in position called ‘turtling.’
Rivard said both he and Cassidy pulled at the man’s arms to get his hands behind his back, and were eventually able to put the man in handcuffs.
Rivard told the court he did not see Cassidy use force in the arrest.
Kiez told the court he had pulled the passenger from the vehicle. He said the passenger was put in handcuffs without incident. He said he was on the other side of the truck, and did not see Cassidy or the driver.
Kiez said once the two men were put in handcuffs, Cassidy briefed them on some details. He said Cassidy told them that there had been break and enters in the area south of the city, and one of the suspect vehicles had been an older truck.
Kiez said Cassidy told them he had been followed by a truck for an extended period of time.
In his testimony on Monday, Jamie Cote alleged he had been followed by the van from La Salle, Man., and had been punched and kneed in the face during the arrest by a person who was not in uniform.
Dylan Hanlan, who was the passenger in the truck that night and was living with Cote at the time, told the court on Wednesday that he and Cote had been in La Salle that night delivering flyers for Cote's landscaping businesses.
He said while in La Salle, they noticed a truck that appeared to be following them, and decided to go to Winnipeg to get away from it.
Hanlan said his memory of the night is patchy, but he told the court he remembers being pulled from the truck by police.
"I was such in shock that my legs wouldn’t work, so they physically had to help me up. I couldn't stand up on my own," he said.
Hanlan said he and Cote were put in the back of separate police cruisers. He said he did not see what happened to Cote, but when they were released shortly after—Cote had blood coming out of his ear.
Robert Lower, a Winnipeg police officer who arrived on the scene in the early hours of March 28, 2017, said Cote—who was already handcuffed by the time he arrived—was placed in the back of his cruiser car.
He told court on Wednesday that he noted Cote had two injuries—a bruised right eyebrow and a small cut on his right ear that had blood on it.
Court heard both Cote and Hanlan were released with no charges or conditions.
The trial is set to continue on Friday.