R. v. Brown, 2010 NSSC 416 – Accused acquitted in an assaulting peace officer allegation where the investigation is shoddy, incomplete and inconsistent.

In R. v. Brown, 2010 NSSC 416 the accused had been arrested by private security staff at a shopping centre for theft, and held in the security office. When the police arrived, the officer learned that the accused had ingested pills. He was taken to a police car and driven a short distance because, in the evidence of the police officer, he was concerned that the accused had more pills. The accused was brought out of the car at which time the officer testified that he was assaulted by the accused with a dark cylindrical object, similar to the flashlight which was on the seat in front of the accused. A chase and further scuffle ensued. Other police officers testified that while being treated at the hospital from the altercation, the accused had vomited more pills. There were numerous inconsistencies in the police evidence, not the least of which was the failure to bring reliable physical evidence into Court. The trial judge, Cacchione J., of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court said:

    40. The evidence of Sergeant Poirier is of little assistance in determining what occurred that evening. As stated previously, Sergeant Poirier arrived within minutes of the occurrence. Other officers had already arrived on the scene. He did not take any statements from any witnesses nor did he speak with the accused, yet his testimony was that he determined at the scene that Constable Reeves had been struck with a flashlight which he, Sergeant Poirier, received from Mr. Pottie. Mr. Pottie’s evidence was that he picked up the flashlight and gave it to Constable Reeves who did not appear to know where it came from. Mr. Pottie stated that Constable Reeves put the flashlight back on his service belt.41. Sergeant Poirier’s conclusion, that Constable Reeves had been struck with a flashlight, was reached before the flashlight had even been fingerprinted.

    42. The evidence shows that standard practice, according to Sergeant Poirier, is to have the police vehicle number, in this case W11, engraved on the flashlight assigned to that vehicle. Exhibit 9, the flashlight, which was supposedly in Constable Reeves’ vehicle does not have a police vehicle number engraved on it. This, coupled with the fact that no fingerprints belonging to either Constable Reeves or the accused were found on it, raises a substantial doubt as to whether or not this is even the same flashlight that was in Constable Reeves’ vehicle the night of this incident let alone that it was the one that was allegedly wielded by the accused.

    43. Detective Constable Shannon testified that while at the hospital with the accused, Mr. Brown vomited five or six tablets. This occurred at least two and a half hours after the incident. The pills were not seized and obviously not analysed. Given Constable Reeves’ evidence that the reason he pulled his police vehicle into the church parking lot was to search the accused because he had seen him take pills, it is surprising that the pills the accused allegedly vomited were not seized, especially in light of Sergeant Poirier’s evidence that he determined at the scene what had occurred.

Accordingly, the accused was acquitted of assaulting peace officer charges.