Judge reserves decision in trial of police corporal charged with assault
REGINA -- A Regina Police Service corporal facing an assault charge appeared in Provincial Court on Wednesday.
Cpl. Colin Magee, who has been an officer for 17 years, is accused of assaulting Lucien Gaudette, 42, who was leaving Regina Police Service custody on Sept. 26, 2018. Magee pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Gaudette was brought into custody the night prior, after being arrested for an alleged assault against his wife. The two were separated at the time.
Video surveillance of the incident was used as evidence in the court room.
The video shows Magee explaining the conditions of release to Gaudette, while Gaudette was collecting his belongings and clothing articles that had been taken from him when he went into custody.
At one point, Gaudette walked behind Magee. He said in court it was to go into a nearby washroom to change his pants. He did not ask permission to go change, or advise the officer of his intention.
“I didn’t like the fact that he stepped behind me,” Magee said in court. “It’s not a safe place for a prisoner to be.”
He returned to the surveillance area after a couple of minutes, and went back to collecting his items. He claimed his shirt was missing from the bucket holding his belongings.
Magee asked him to focus on the paperwork first, and they could sort out his belongings later. Magee began reading the conditions of release to Gaudette, some of which stated he was not to contact his wife. Gaudette asked questions about sorting out childcare if he could not talk to his wife.
Gaudette then approached the area where Magee was asking him to fill out paper work. He took the pen from the officer’s hand, and began signing documents.
Magee asked if he understood what he was signing.
“It doesn’t matter anyway,” Gaudette said in the video.
At that point, Magee asked him two times to drop the pen. In court, he said it was his responsibility to ensure Gaudette knew what he was signing. Gaudette did not drop the pen.
When the officer reached for the pen, Gaudette held it near his right hip, using his body as a shield so Magee could not regain possession of the pen.
At that point, Magee brought Gaudette to the ground, where he held him for several seconds. They exchanged words, then asked him to roll onto his stomach, and then they both stood up while Magee held Gaudette’s arms behind his back.
He then walked Gaudette back over to the table where the documents were, and had him sign them.
Crown prosecutor Bill Burge argued that the force used was too excessive for the situation, saying Gaudette never threatened to use the pen as a weapon, and made no gesture that suggested an assault would take place.
“There is nothing to suggest that he is being assaultive or threatening,” Burge said during his closing arguments.
Burge also argued that the incident report that Magee filed four days after the incident took place stated Gaudette had the pen raised to shoulder height when he turned to shield it from Magee. However, the video shows it was held around his hip.
Burge suggested Magee wrote that because he wanted to make it appear that Gaudette was being more threatening than he really was.
While on the stand, Gaudette said when he was forced to the ground, he hit his head.
“I instantly — as soon as my head hit the ground — felt a ringing and a pain, which I actually still feel today,” Gaudette said.
Defence lawyer Aaron Fox represented Magee in court. He argued that Magee required an acknowledgement from Gaudette that he understood the undertaking. Because he didn’t receive that confirmation, he asked Gaudette to drop the pen.
Fox said Gaudette did not listen to an order from an officer by not dropping the pen after being asked twice.
“He doesn’t only not drop the pen, he turns and shields it,” Fox said during closing arguments.
He said Magee viewed the pen as a weapon, and just three months prior had been assaulted by a prisoner with a pen.
“He perceived it as a threat, and he was obligated to deal with that threat,” Fox said.
While on the stand, Magee said he feels he complied with the use of the police force policy, which depicts the appropriate steps to deal with an encounter that could be seen as threatening.
Fox added that at no point before the court appearance did Gaudette mention an injury – not during the incident, or in follow up interviews with other officers.
Judge Patrick Reis has reserved his decision until Jan. 16.