A member of the RCMP dog service unit has been acquitted of mischief and assault after witnesses could not identify him during his trial in Red Deer provincial court on Wednesday.
Sgt. Vincent Stanley Hammer was one of two men charged in relation to an incident involving a group of teenaged boys playing with airsoft pellet guns in a green area behind Dallas Street on June 10, 2011.
Charges against the other man were dismissed earlier on.
Teenaged witnesses, whose identities are protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, said they were playing airsoft wars with replica firearms when a younger child was accidentally struck in the arm.
Court heard that the toy weapons — made to look like real rifles, shotguns and pistols — fire plastic pellets similar to BBs. Participants all testified that they were wearing eye protection. They said the pellets do not cause serious injury, but that they sting and leave a small welt.
The first of the seven boys called to the stand said he had been shooting at one of his friends when one of his pellets accidentally struck a younger child riding by on a bicycle. He said he did not see the boy, who was obscured behind some bushes.
Now 15, the boy told court that he went over to check on the younger boy and to apologize for hitting him. However, the wounded boy and his friends got on their bicycles and rode off.
He and other boys who were with him testified that they were approached a few minutes later by two angry-looking men.
One of the men asked which of the boys had shot his son. The boy and his friends testified that he identified himself and was then ordered to stand up. The man then grabbed him by the throat and held onto him for a few seconds while the other man started breaking up their guns.
They said he also started breaking guns after letting the boy go.
One by one, the boys testified that the two men broke all but two of the guns and took away the two smallest ones, leaving them with a phone number and instructions to have their parents call if they wanted their guns back.
A young couple who had been doing yardwork nearby said they heard yelling and saw the two men approach the boys. Neither was able to identify the accused, who was seated at the defence table beside his lawyer, Gordon Yake.
Crown prosecutor Rod Clark asked that the charges be dismissed after none of his witnesses was able to pick the accused out of the small gathering of people in the courtroom. Clark said he had no other evidence to identify Hammer as the man alleged to have grabbed the one boy.
Judge Bill Andreasson pronounced Hammer not guilty, saying that with no evidence to identify the accused, he had no need to hear any submissions from the defence.
The boy he was alleged to have grabbed confirmed during his testimony that he had been charged under city bylaws for the offence of shooting inside city limits. The charge was withdrawn under a conditional sentence agreement, including a period of community service and completion of an essay that included an apology to the injured child.