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Red Deer lawyer sentenced for assaulting RCMP officer

Lawyer receives one-year probation and conditional discharge
Laura Phypers (Photo contributed)

A Red Deer Indigenous lawyer was praised on Tuesday by the judge sentencing her for assaulting an RCMP officer last June.

Justice John Maher sentenced Laura Phypers, 38, to one-year's probation, 40 hours of community service and to take alcohol, substance abuse or anger management counselling if directed to by her probation officer followed by a conditional discharge.

If Phypers meets the conditions of her probation her conviction would not be registered and she would not have a criminal record.

Two dozen letters in support of Phypers were submitted to the Red Deer Court of Justice judge before sentencing. They were written by other lawyers, clients and three of her siblings, who described her significant achievements despite a difficult upbringing amid poverty and surrounded by alcoholism.

Maher said they painted a "remarkable portrait" of Phypers, marred only by the "one-off" but "significant" incident that led to her arrest.

Maher said Phypers, who pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer last week, will likely face a review by the Law Society of Alberta.

"In that regard, I sincerely wish you well," said the judge.

"In my opinion, we need more lawyers with your life experiences advocating for the citizens of Alberta who are less advantaged than the rest of us."

Outside court, Phypers  said that "out of respect for the justice system and my cultural beliefs, I accept full responsibility for my part in the incident."

Phypers said she looks forward to continuing to serve the community. "I've worked really hard to be able to help other people and I will continue to do that."

Phypers was a passenger in a vehicle driven by another woman that was pulled over by an RCMP officer who suspected impaired driving near the Innisfail overpass at Highway 2 on June 3, 2023.

When the officer approached the vehicle, he spotted an open bottle of liquor and when he tried to apprehend the driver an altercation occurred. Phypers clenched her fists and took a fighting stance before she was taken to the ground. She tried to punch the officer and eventually struck him on the left side before being handcuffed.

During the scuffle, Phypers was punched a number of times, suffering several nose fractures, bruising and other injuries, including permanent nerve damage to her cheek. She was later charged with assaulting a police officer, obstructing a police officer and uttering threats. The obstruction and threat charges were withdrawn by the Crown prosecutor following her guilty plea.

Phypers said she accepts responsibility for her actions but does not condone the force used during the arrests.

"I do not want to send the message that I believe the amount of force used was justified or OK."

The National Police Federation (NPF), which represents 20,000 RCMP officers across Canada and internationally, criticized any who attack a police officer while they are trying to do their jobs.

NPF Prairie Region director Kevin Halwa said the "officer has been "publicly shamed by the individual who assaulted them in the court of public opinion for simply doing their job and working to keep our community safe.

"We thank the member for their patience, professionalism and commitment to public safety during the past year."

The driver, Desiree Friesen, has been charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and refusing to provide a breath sample. She returns to court on Thursday to set a trial date.




Paul Cowley

About the Author: Paul Cowley

Paul grew up in Brampton, Ont. and began his journalism career in 1990 at the Alaska Highway News in Fort. St. John, B.C.
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