That was criminal defense attorney Greg Brodsky’s take on a sentencing hearing after dozens of uniformed police officers packed a small courtroom to support a fellow officer who suffered a brutal attack after intervening in a violent domestic assault.
The officer, a fifty-two (52) year old, thirty-three (33) year veteran of the police service, was off duty at the time of the incident.
The offender, Kyle Jeremy Peters (27), previously plead guilty to a number of charges including aggravated assault, assault cause bodily harm and assault in connection with the incident.
The controversy surrounding the case intensified after Provincial Court Judge Rob Finlayson drew a comparison between gang members wearing colours and police officers sporting uniforms in the courtroom.
The hearing was adjourned and resumed on November 10, 2014 at 2 p.m. in court room #404 at 408 York Ave.
As I entered the courtroom the first thing I noticed was there were only three (3) uniformed police officers in the gallery, a stark contrast to the dozens of officers who attended the previous hearing.
The accused offender occupied a seat beside his attorney on the opposite side of the courtroom with a half-dozen or so supporters seated directly behind him.
The fact support in the court room appeared more evenly balanced seemed to please Mr Brodsky, the accused offender and the Court. With parity achieved, “justice could be seen to be done,” and the case progressed without the need for further grandstanding.
Senior Crown Attorney Daniel Chaput opened the proceedings by providing the court with a detailed account of the domestic assault, the attack on the off duty officer and a third attack on a good Samaritan who also tried to intervene.
Chaput described an intoxicated Peters dragging his girlfriend around by her purse straps in a 7-11 parking lot in his attempt to retrieve the keys to his vehicle. The off duty officer intervened just before Peters started putting the boots to her.
The noble gesture proved to aggravate Peters who immediately redirected his aggression.
The problem for the off duty officer was Peters is an MMA buff and trained pugilist. The other problem, he didn’t expect the violent, relentless attack Peters was about to unleash upon him.
The first punch caught the officer square in the right eye and immediately incapacitated him. The force of the blow fractured his cheek and orbital bone causing an almost immediate loss of vision.
The fact the officer was defenceless didn’t dissuade Peters from raining down several more blows and kicks on the man he would later suggest had no business getting involved in his business.
It also didn’t stop him from unleashing a third violent attack on a good Samaritan who tried to come to the officers aid.
The officers victim impact statement was emotional and compelling.
It started with historical context being placed on the reasons he chose a career in law enforcement. It was a compelling story featuring his grandparents, nazi persecution and the calibration of a moral compass that dictates action in the face of all forms of oppression.
Intervention for the officer wasn’t an option, it was a predetermined response ingrained in his DNA.
The injuries he suffered and lingering effects are significant;
- blow out fracture of the orbital bone
- fracture of cheek bone
- lacerations, swelling, bruising
- nerve damage to front teeth
- nerve damage to face and scalp
- double vision
- severe headache
- sleep disruption
The officer will need major oral surgery in the near future.
In addition to the physical and psychological pain, the officer now struggles with the realization he may no longer be employable once he retires from the Police Service. That realization not only impacts his ability to support his family, it also has a decidedly negative impact on his emotional well-being.
The Crown is seeking a three (3) year custodial sentence for the brutal assault citing the need to denounce and deter other like-minded offenders.
The Crown stressed the serious nature of the attack merited a Federal sentence describing Peter’s attack as a virtual “trifecta” of deplorable assaults;
- Assault on a spouse – Domestic Violence
- Assault on a Peace Officer
- Assault on a good Samaritan
After the Crown completed his submissions it was time for Mr Brodsky to paint the picture.
It was a familiar story.
An Aboriginal offender with a troubled childhood and a transient lifestyle that featured eight (8) address changes between the ages of 4-15 years. His mother, father and grandfather were all residential school “survivors.”
To his credit, Peters has been a poster boy for post offence conduct.
He’s taken domestic violence, anger management and substance abuse classes. He attended a four-week residential program, twenty-eight counselling sessions and is working on the 12 step program.
He attended carpentry classes and is working as a drywall installer.
Most important, he apparently hasn’t had a drink since the ugly incident.
Brodsky asked the court to consider a sentence to be served in the community.
That’s right, no jail time.
In making his argument Brodsky indicated, “This was not a fight about hurting someone.”
I beg to differ.
Domestic violence is always about “hurting someone.”
Domestic related abuse whether verbal or physical always hurts someone. It hurts women, men and children, that’s why it’s important to confront it in the most vigorous way possible.
That’s why it’s important to support people like the off duty officer who had the courage to stand up and say no to domestic violence.
That’s why we must applaud the officer’s heroic, self-sacrificing intervention.
That’s why it’s important for the court to send a loud and clear message to Kyle Peters and anyone like him that thinks it’s okay to use violence to resolve domestic disputes.
That’s how we #breakthecycle.
The Judge is expected to render his decision on November 28, 2014.
The positions taken by the Crown and Defense are extremely far apart.
In such cases, Judges tend to opt for a “saw off” or meet opposing counsel half-way.
In this case, that might result in a sentence of 18 months to 2 years less a day. That would spare Peters a Federal sentence in the Stony Mountain Institution and keep him in the Provincial system. (Headingley Correctional Centre)
Additionally, Peter’s sentence will likely be softened by Gladue sentencing principles.
Gladue is a sentencing principle that recognizes the plight of Aboriginal people and the many issues they face in Canadian society and criminal justice. Issues like racism, discrimination and over-representation in crime, gangs, prison and child welfare systems. Social issues like physical or sexual abuse, child welfare removal, substance abuse, FASD, health and developmental issues and the effects of residential schools.
Once sentenced, Peters will also benefit from early release provisions courtesy of soft Canadian justice.
*Offenders serving a sentence under two years is eligible for day parole once they serve 1/6 of their sentence.
POLICE OFFICER VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT: