Of­fi­cer handed sus­pended sen­tence for as­sault con­vic­tion

Punch­ing man dur­ing 2015 ar­rest a ‘lapse of judg­ment,’ judge says

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - NI­COLE O’REILLY The Hamilton Spec­ta­tor

A Hamilton po­lice con­sta­ble con­victed of as­sault­ing a man dur­ing a dif­fi­cult ar­rest two years ago has been handed a sus­pended sen­tence for what On­tario Court Jus­tice Robert Gee called “a mo­men­tary lapse in judg­ment.”

The sen­tence means Const. Kudo Park will have a crim­i­nal record, which is likely to have an im­pact on a pend­ing dis­ci­plinary case against the well-liked of­fi­cer, but he will not face any jail time. Court heard he could face a one year de­mo­tion be­fore a po­lice dis­ci­plinary tri­bunal later this year.

On Fri­day, he was also sen­tenced to 12 months pro­ba­tion and 50 hours com­mu­nity ser­vice.

In April, Park was found not guilty of as­sault caus­ing bod­ily harm, but guilty of the lesser in­cluded of­fence of as­sault for punch­ing a hand­cuffed Thomas Schon­berger dur­ing his April 17, 2015, ar­rest. Schon­berger spit in Park’s mouth dur­ing the en­counter and later pleaded guilty to as­sault­ing Park and to threat­en­ing an­other of­fi­cer.

Park ad­dressed court dur­ing his sen­tenc­ing hear­ing Fri­day morn­ing, say­ing he has learned a lot over the last cou­ple of years.

“I want to con­tinue to be a po­lice of­fi­cer,” he said, adding that he prom­ises never to be back in court ac­cused of a crime again.

His lawyer, Gary Clew­ley, asked for “le­niency,” ar­gu­ing for a con­di­tional dis­charge, which would have meant no crim­i­nal record.

How­ever, Crown pros­e­cu­tor Roger Shal­low said a con­di­tional dis­charge “doesn’t cut it” and asked for the sus­pended sen­tence. Jus­tice Gee agreed. Out­side court, Clew­ley said they will not ap­peal the con­vic­tion, but will try to have the record ex­punged at a later date.

Park, who bowed his head when he heard the judge’s de­ci­sion, has lost up­wards of $30,000 pay while on ad­min­is­tra­tive duty dur­ing the case and has faced hu­mil­i­a­tion with the case be­ing re­ported in the me­dia, Clew­ley said.

Now there is also stigma around hav­ing a crim­i­nal record.

The in­ci­dent hap­pened af­ter Park re­sponded to a call about a man walk­ing down King Street East swing­ing a knife and walk­ing a dog. When he came upon the scene, he found Schon­berger, then 35, al­ready hand­cuffed and ap­proached to of­fer as­sis­tance.

That’s when Schon­berger spit in Park’s mouth with­out warn­ing or provo­ca­tion, and Park re­sponded with “one quick jab,” fol­lowed by two more punches af­ter Schon­berger was taken to the ground.

It’s th­ese later two punches that Gee found were “retri­bu­tion” for the spit­ting.

Park had tes­ti­fied that the punches were to stop Schon­berger from as­sault­ing him and other of­fi­cers.

Schon­berger suf­fered a frac­tured right cheek­bone, but Gee said it wasn’t proven that the in­jury was caused by the punches, as Schon­berger was also seen smack­ing his face off the Plex­i­glas bar­rier in the po­lice cruiser.

Dur­ing sen­tenc­ing Fri­day, Gee noted Schon­berger’s men­tal health should have been ob­vi­ous dur­ing the en­counter — he has schizophre­nia and was drunk. “A true mea­sure of so­ci­ety is how it treats it’s most vul­ner­a­ble.”

How­ever, out­side of court Clew­ley said the in­ci­dent hap­pened so fast, that he doesn’t know how clear that would have been at that time. He noted that the judge never called Park a bad guy, just some­one who made a mis­take in a fast­mov­ing sit­u­a­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.