Officer suffers from PTSD tribunal told
Const. Wayne Sczepanski has pleaded guilty to charges of insubordination and discreditable conduct, not guilty to a single charge of deceit
A tribunal held under the Police Services Act for a Woodstock police officer was unexpected ly interrupted Tuesday morning due to illness.
Const. Wayne Sczepanski, who is currently suspended with pay from the Woodstock Police Service, told his lawyer, Glen Donald, he was not feeling well and needed to go to Woodstock Hospital.
Sczepanski has pleaded guilty to charges of insubordination and discreditable conduct but not guilty to a single charge of deceit.
Details of what those charges relate to have yet to be disclosed.
Just prior to his departure Tuesday morning, the 36-year veteran was answering questions from the Woodstock service’s lawyer relating to a timeline of Sczepanski’s medical treatment and perceived delays over an expert medical report related to the deceit charge.
Sczepanski, who once served a six-month tour with the United Nations Civilian Police while posted in Yugoslavia, said he was seeking treatment “to get better” and not just to get an expert report.
“I have PTSD,” said Sczepanski, who had clearly become frustrated by the line of questioning. “That’s why police officers kill themselves. I don’t want to be that police officer.”
The hearing was held to hear motions relating to Donald’s February application for “a reasonable apprehension of bias” against retired superintendent and hearing officer Morris Elbers.
The application, which is a legal standard for disqualifying judges or decision makers for bias, basically calls for the hearing officer to recuse himself or step down.
Donald’s main argument for the application was a conference call that Elbers held last February that Donald said was conducted unfairly.
He also cited a last-minute 19-page e-mail document from an interview with a potential witness he had received from the prosecutor just hours before the hearing.
Elbers also said 11th-hour e-mails with pertinent information were not unusual in cases such as this one.
In February, Donald said they had come very close to an agreed statement of facts with prosecutor Ian Johnstone, but differed in three paragraphs due to his client disagreeing with what one witness had said.
According to Elbers, Sczepanski made a first appearance in March 2016, which was followed by several teleconferences and meetings while waiting for a medical report.
Sczepanski began his career with the RCMP in Newfoundland and Labrador before being transferred to Ontario in 1990, where he worked in drug enforcement and proceeds of crime while serving with the emergency response team.
In Yugoslavia, he performed policing duties and provided humanitarian aid to displaced citizens during the Bosnian War.
In 1998, he retired from the RCMP and joined the Woodstock Police Service, where he performed several functions, including canine officer handler for German shepherd police dog Jericho.
In 2012, Sczepanski received an award from the Governor General of Canada for exemplary service in policing demonstrated through “good conduct, industry and efficiency.”
An update on Sczepanski’s condition is expected Thursday.