‘He said, he said’: Testimony ends at RCMP officer’s assault trial
Judge Susan Charlesworth reserves decision until later date
After three days of testimony, a judge must now decide whether a former Nunavut RCMP detachment commander is guilty of driving a man’s head into the ground multiple times following an arrest in Sanirajak in 2020.
Testimony at the trial of Cpl. Ian Crowe concluded Thursday with the Crown’s cross-examination of Crowe and closing submissions from lawyers.
A former commander of the Sanirajak detachment, Crowe is charged with assault in connection with the June 30, 2020, incident. He pleaded not guilty.
His detachment colleague at the time, Const. Tyson Richard, testified earlier this week that he watched Crowe drive a man’s head into the gravel on the ground two or three times.
Crowe has denied the alleged assault ever took place. He said he fell on top of the man during a struggle to get him inside the detachment, causing a gash on the man’s forehead.
The man in question was arrested twice on June 30, 2020. On Thursday, Crown lawyer Leo Lane questioned Crowe about the man having a lighter during both arrests.
Crowe — who was charged in August 2021 but has been off duty since the alleged incident — testified Wednesday that the man had a lighter with him during both arrests.
Lane noted Crowe’s police report didn’t mention the officers trying to take a lighter from the man during the first arrest.
“There’s certainly nothing in your notes or reports to indicate that a lighter was removed from his person after that first arrest,” Lane said.
Crowe agreed, and said he didn’t feel it was necessary to include it in the police report.
Earlier in the week, the trial saw videos from inside the Sanirajak detachment that showed the officers taking the man to a cell.
In the video, Crowe appears to knee the man in his side twice and punch him while the officers try to remove the man’s handcuffs in the cell.
“It was a discretionary technique, and it was not the main focus of his injuries,” Crowe said.
RCMP officers are required to complete subject behaviour/officer response, or SB/OR, reports when a member uses force on somebody in police custody. Lane said in this case, Crowe completed a SB/OR report, but did not make note of the kicks or the punch.
In the video, Crowe removes a thin mattress from the cell floor after the man is put in the cell. Crowe testified this was because he was worried the man might use it to cover the video cameras in the cell.
Defence and Crown lawyers also made their closing submissions to Charlesworth before a blizzard forced the shutdown of the courthouse for the afternoon.
Defence lawyer Robb Beeman argued Crowe should be acquitted because of, among other reasons, inconsistencies in Richard’s testimony about how the man was taken to the ground on the gravel and for Richard not including the alleged incident in his reports.
Beeman also noted that Richard said there was blood on the gravel from the incident but that Richard did not photograph this blood.
“This case comes down to sort of a he said, he said,” Beeman said.
Lane told the court Crowe should be found guilty for several reasons, including because Crowe’s testimony about not grabbing the lighter before the man entered the detachment didn’t match his previous testimony where he said the lighter posed a threat.
“The lighter wasn’t actually the point, the lighter is just what set him off,” Lane said of Crowe.
Lane also said Richard didn’t mention the alleged assault in his notes because he was the junior officer in a two-person attachment and was worried about Crowe reading the report.
At the beginning of the trial, Lane told the court that the man who Crowe allegedly assaulted could not be located.
Judge Susan Charlesworth reserved her decision and the case will be spoken to again March 6.
What did the alleged victim have to say? Not enough was done to get their side of the story.
As far as I’m aware the victim declined to testify or appear at all. I think charges were laid by the Crown after his colleague reported the incident.
That’s not what the prosecutor is reported to have said. He told the judge that the victim could not be located. That’s something quite different than the victim not wanting to testify or appear in court. Nunavuts a pretty small place where everyone knows each other. Kind of makes you wonder what efforts were taken to locate him….
MIGA are they supposed to send out a search party to find him? If he doesn’t show than he obviously doesn’t want to have anything to do with it. What if he took off out on the land for a 3 week trip, are they supposed to hold up the judicial system for him?
I can see that you’re a person who lives on making assumptions about things without actually knowing the facts. For example, you don’t know if this victim was ever asked to speak to police about what happened. You don’t know whether the victim ever gave a statement to them about what happened. You don’t know whether the victim is disinterested in this case. You don’t know whether the victim was told of the court hearing and decided to go into hiding. You don’t know if the victim decided that he didn’t want to cooperate and was intentionally avoiding the prosecutor.
You have no direct knowledge of any those things and yet you choose to make assumptions about all of them based on a simple statement from the prosecutor that “ the victim could not be located”. Are you familiar with that old expression “ when you assume, you make a bleep out of you and me….”