The judge who presided over the trial of a protester charged with assaulting police at the B.C. courthouse said Thursday that police should not have used excessive and unreasonable force.
The B. C. Supreme Court has ruled that a bystander, David LeBlanc, is entitled to a new trial for charges he assaulted an officer during a confrontation at a B. Canada courthouse on Jan. 28, 2015.
The decision, which is the first of its kind in the province, is expected to be appealed.
A decision is expected by March.
The case is one of two in which the BC Supreme Court is considering whether police acted properly in the arrest and detention of protesters who broke into a courtroom.
The second trial is scheduled to start in March.
“The fact that police had to break up the demonstration, break the windows and use pepper spray on a number of protesters, that’s not unreasonable,” said the judge who has been appointed to review the case.
“We don’t see that as excessive force, we see that in relation to the other three individuals who were arrested, they were entitled to their right to their own right to a fair trial.”
In court Thursday, LeBlanchy’s lawyers, Andrew Fauci and Daniel Dallimore, argued the court erred by ordering a new sentencing hearing for the protester charged.
“They (police) should have been more respectful and more cooperative,” said Faucs lawyer.
“It was a violent act, but it was not the most aggressive.
We think the officers did a good job.”
The judge’s comments were released after the trial was adjourned until May to give the Crown time to argue whether to call witnesses and to present evidence.
He said the Crown’s evidence was not sufficient to prove the case against LeBlancheys co-accused, Daniel Dross.
The Crown said LeBlanches role was to break down the doors of the courtroom.
Dross had broken into the courtroom through a locked door and was arrested while trying to break it open.
“I am disappointed the Crown will not call witnesses, but I am not surprised,” said Crown prosecutor Andrew Faucette.
“The Crown was very, very cautious in calling witnesses.
They had to be.”
Fauci, a former police officer, said police officers should have known LeBlancers intentions were not to break the doors.
“You could see that, you could hear it from the way he was behaving,” said his lawyer.
“In this case, he was breaking into the doors, but the door was locked.”
Faucette said police failed to use the right tactics to break LeBlANCs arm.
“There was no need to break his arm, they could have easily gone through his shirt, which would have broken it,” he said.
“It’s just that the Crown is relying on this police officer to make a subjective judgement, which he cannot, he is not an expert in that area.”
Dross was not called as a witness at the trial.
He did not attend Thursday’s proceedings.
Faucettes lawyer said police used pepper spray and batons in an attempt to disperse the crowd of protesters.
“He was on the ground.
He was on all fours.
He had his arms in the air.
He just stood there and watched the whole thing unfold,” he told reporters.”
His intent was not to cause any harm.
He didn’t intend to cause harm.
I think that the officers were acting in self-defence.”
He said it was an “excellent” job by the police to use force to stop the crowds from coming at them.
“This is a peaceful demonstration.
It’s not a riot,” said Dross, who was in his 20s when the violence erupted.”
At the end of the day, the police officers were there for the people and the police were there to stop people from harming the community.”
The trial of the protester and Dross was one of three trials involving protesters that took place over the course of four days.
It is the only one in the region to include evidence from multiple police officers, who are accused of failing to act in accordance with their training.
The Crown is arguing that the police acted in accordance because of the evidence, including video footage, that showed LeBlanes actions.