It was a controversial case.
A defense lawyer objects to a large uniformed police officer “show of force” and a Judge draws a comparison between gang members wearing colours and police officers sporting uniforms in a Winnipeg court room.
The case before the court involved the serious assault of an off duty Winnipeg police officer violently attacked during a domestic assault on October 27, 2013.
Police reported the officer attended a convenience store where he observed a man assaulting a woman. The officer attempted to intervene when the assailant turned his aggression towards him.
The officer, a fifty-two (52) year old, thirty-three (33) year veteran of the Police Service, suffered serious injuries including an orbital fracture, lacerations to the cheek and eyelid, concussion and nerve damage.
Police subsequently charged Kyle Jeremy Peters (26) with aggravated assault for his attack on the officer. He also faced charges of assault on the woman and assault causing bodily harm on a good Samaritan who attempted to intervene.
Peters plead guilty to all charges.
In earlier hearings the Crown argued for a sentence of three (3) years incarceration while Defense requested a suspended sentence to be served in the community.
With the two sides so diametrically opposed The Police Insider speculated the Judge might be inclined to meet opposing counsel half-way and hand down a sentence between eighteen months and two years less a day.
On November 28, 2014, at 1:15 p.m., judgement day finally arrived.
Peters was present in the courtroom with his lawyer Greg Brodsky, his spouse and young daughter (4 or 5 years) and other supporters.
The victim officer was seated on the opposite side of the gallery with his spouse and daughter and other supporters only one of which was a WPS officer in uniform.
Upon entering the courtroom Judge Finlayson provided a recitation of the known facts and proceeded with sentencing Peters. Finlayson indicated he believed the Crown’s position was a “fair” one having regard for the nature of level of violence used in the attacks.
“I will say on the record that this, in my opinion, is a very fair recommendation made by senior and well-respected Crown counsel,” Finlayson said.
He rejected Brodsky’s request for a suspended sentence indicating the crime was such that a non-custodial sentence would be inappropriate.
Gladue is a race based sentencing principle designed to recognize 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.
In sentencing Peters, Judge Finlayson indicated significant Gladue factors were in present in his background. These factors included significant alcohol addiction issues and the impact of generations affected by the residential school system.
Finlayson also credited Peters for making a significant effort to rehabilitate himself since his arrest and went on to sentence him to two years less a day to be served in a Provincial jail.
(He received concurrent time for the other charges.)
Once he’s released from prison, Peters will be required to serve a one year period of probation with conditions.
The reality of consequences appeared to catch Peters and his spouse completely off guard.
“So, am I getting arrested right now?” a seemingly confused Peters asked the Judge.
Considering the fact two Sheriffs Officers had just entered the courtroom and stood directly by his side, it seemed the answer was obvious to everyone in the courtroom but him.
“Do I have time to at least kiss my daughter goodbye?” he asked.
The answer, not so much, the time for kissing babies was over.
The courtroom drama intensified when Peter’s spouse broke down sobbing as she watched her man being taken into custody. The little girl appeared frightened and confused as she tried to comfort her inconsolable mother.
The scene drew the ire of crime reporter Mike McIntyre who tweeted;
After covering the law courts for decades I’m surprised McIntyre hasn’t become completely numb to this kind of drama.
A little girl sitting in court hearing graphic details of a violent assault perpetrated by her father.
Sadly, it’s just part of the game.
Now that he’s sentenced, Peter’s can settle in to his jail cell for what is sure to be a brief stay courtesy of our soft Canadian justice system.
That’s because offenders serving a sentence under two years are eligible for day parole once they serve 1/6 of their sentence.
Meanwhile, the off duty officer will continue to struggle with post concussion symptoms, migraine headaches, numbness from nerve damage and the after effects of a brutal attack that may linger for the rest of his natural life.
We call it justice, with a very small j.