Judge stays charges, says officer was 'cruel' to man
The Canadian Press
Published Friday, February 11, 2011 6:42AM EST
STETTLER, Alta. - An Alberta judge has stayed criminal charges against a one-footed man who was punched and stomped on by a police officer while he was being arrested in July 2009.
Judge E.D. Reimer says the officer was "cruel" and used excessive force, breaching the accused's charter rights by entering his property without permission.
According to court transcripts, Leslie James Lattery was charged with assault, uttering a death threat, resisting arrest and assaulting a peace officer.
Lattery was among about 100 people who were attending a family gathering near Bashaw when he got into a dispute with a 12-year-old boy who was causing trouble.
The boy called to complain to police and when RCMP Const. Jack Cunningham arrived to investigate, tensions flared further.
The transcripts indicate that when Lattery refused to accompany the officer to his car, Cunningham punched Lattery, who quickly fell because he only had one foot, having lost the other to amputation.
Reimer said in his ruling the accused would not likely have been found guilty on any of the four counts against him.
The judge also said he believed the evidence of witness Raymond Cerniuk, who said Lattery was not resisting arrest but could not get up when Cunningham continually screamed at him to do so.
"The officer used excessive force by striking the accused in the face without justification," said Reimer.
"Additionally the officer caused the accused to sustain a broken finger in the course of applying excessive force to his person by stepping or stomping on the hand of the accused as he lay on the ground.
"I find that this treatment of the accused by the officer is cruel and unusual treatment."
Reimer said he did not believe the officer's testimony that Lattery had punched him first.
"I am satisfied that immediately prior to and during his interaction with the accused at the scene, the officer was very angry and in a volatile condition," said the judge.
"I find that this condition precluded him from acting in a reasonable fashion and resulted in a lack of awareness of what was occurring in his immediate vicinity."