FREE­DOM FOR MAN WHO RAN DOWN COP A ‘JOKE’

Widow fights re­view board to re­mem­ber slain cop

Toronto Sun - - FRONT PAGE - MICHELE MAN­DEL mman­del@post­media.com @man­del­sun

Just pick up your head and look her in the eye — and for God’s sake, just apol­o­gize.

It won’t make it right. It won’t heal her pain. But if Richard Kachkar is do­ing so well now, if he’s re­ally re­morse­ful and has in­sight into his “in­dex of­fence” and is be­ing fast tracked to a con­di­tional dis­charge, then have the sim­ple de­cency to at least look at the widow he cre­ated when he mowed down Sgt. Ryan Rus­sell with that stolen snow­plow in 2011.

Look at her and ac­knowl­edge what his ill­ness has cost her in­no­cent fam­ily.

But Kachkar does not, just as he hasn’t at any of these an­nual hear­ings of the On­tario Re­view Board, which has mon­i­tored him since he was found not crim­i­nally re­spon­si­ble in 2013.

In­stead, the hear­ing was all about how well Kachkar is do­ing and why ev­ery­one agrees — from his psy­chi­a­trist at On­tario Shores Cen­tre for Men­tal Health Sciences to his lawyer and even the Crown at­tor­ney — that while he still poses a dan­ger to the pub­lic and can’t be given an ab­so­lute dis­charge yet, he should get a con­di­tional dis­charge.

He’s al­ready been out of the hospi­tal and liv­ing in the com­mu­nity in an ap­proved apart­ment with daily sup­port since April 2017. He’s also been al­lowed to visit his daugh­ter in Hamil­ton on five oc­ca­sions.

Chris­tine Rus­sell called it a “joke.”

“It just con­firms what I thought from the ver­dict — I thought five years and this guy will be free,” the widow said out­side the hear­ing.

“And sure enough this is how the sys­tem works. He’s just an­other no­to­ri­ous NCR killer out on the loose.”

In Jan­uary 2011, Kachkar fled a home­less shel­ter in his bare feet, stole an idling plow and pro­ceeded to go on a vi­o­lent joyride through midtown Toronto, strik­ing the young sergeant on Av­enue Rd.

Ac­quit­ted of first-de­gree mur­der and found not crim­i­nally re­spon­si­ble in 2013, he was ini­tially de­tained at On­tario Shores in Whitby. He was grad­u­ally moved out of the se­cure foren­sic unit into min­i­mum se­cu­rity and in 2016 was given un­su­per­vised passes into the com­mu­nity.

In 2017, Kachkar was re­leased to sup­port­ive hous­ing in Durham Re­gion where he’s vis­ited by a men­tal health worker five times a week.

His psy­chi­a­trist told the board Kachkar still suf­fers from an atypical chronic psy­chotic ill­ness sim­i­lar to schizophre­nia with symp­toms trig­gered by stress. He’s been symp­tom-free since the “in­dex of­fence” — they never men­tion his killing Rus­sell — and now un­der­stands he must re­main on his an­tipsy­chotic med­i­ca­tion and be wary of man­ag­ing the stress in his life. Kachkar also un­der­stands he’ll need psy­chi­atric mon­i­tor­ing for life.

It was Rus­sell’s widow who in­ter­rupted the happy progress re­port to in­ject some re­al­ity into the pro­ceed­ings.

Even there, she was cen­sored. Min­utes be­fore she was to de­liver her vic­tim im­pact state­ment, she was told most of it had to be cut be­cause it went too far.

“That’s the hard­est part of be­ing a vic­tim in this sys­tem,” she said. “You’re squashed time and time again, and he’s pro­tected from hear­ing how I re­ally feel and the things he’s done to me and my fam­ily.”

But Rus­sell was able to slip in some of what she had writ­ten.

Her voice trem­bling, she looked at Kachkar sit­ting at the con­fer­ence ta­ble with his eyes cast down, as al­ways.

“Richard,” Rus­sell said, de­mand­ing his at­ten­tion. “You killed my hus­band, Ryan Rus­sell, 7½ years ago, but it’s me get­ting the life sen­tence.

“I’m the one liv­ing with­out him. My son will never spend his life with his dad. Sit­ting here, hear­ing how you get to see your daugh­ter, and I don’t get that. You took away my part­ner, my best friend, in the worst way pos­si­ble.

“You took a fa­ther from a two-yearold boy. My son will never know his dad … This is so un­fair.”

None of that mat­ters to this process.

It’s all in­ci­den­tal. In­stead, the fo­cus is al­ways on Kachkar.

“It’s all about how fast he can be pushed through the sys­tem and given the all-clear,” Rus­sell says.

Yet no one will an­swer this one ques­tion, a ques­tion that was or­dered stricken from her vic­tim im­pact state­ment: “If he is so re­ha­bil­i­tated and so ready to be part of so­ci­ety again, " she asks, “why is it im­pos­si­ble for him to apol­o­gize?”

The board has re­served its de­ci­sion.

STAN BEHAL/TORONTO SUN

Chris­tine Rus­sell, widow of Sgt. Ryan Rus­sell, speaks to re­porters about the pos­si­ble con­di­tional dis­charge of Richard Kachkar yes­ter­day in Whitby.

KACHKAR “Will be free”

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