A judge from Leduc will give her verdict next month concerning a former Red Deer Mountie accused of beating a teenager senseless and then leaving him unconscious in a pool of blood.
Eric Pomerleau, 31, st00d trial in Red Deer provincial court this week, charged with assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm and common assault. The charges were laid just over a year ago after a public complaint in connection with an arrest in Red Deer on Aug. 19, 2012, when Pomerleau was still a member of the Red Deer City RCMP detachment. His is now on administrative duties at another detachment.
The allegations arise from a series of incidents beginning with JS’s arrest at about 4 a.m. following complaints that he had been creating a disturbance in the Deer Park neighbourhood. The alleged victim’s full name is withheld because he was a minor at the time of the alleged offences.
Crown prosecutor Photini Papadatou, based in Calgary, contended in her submissions to Judge Marilyn Smith that Pomerleau shot the youth with pepper spray when he was already contained in the back of his police car, hauled him to the floor and struck him while leading him to his cell, and then punched him and threw him around inside the cell while attempting to conduct a search.
In her final arguments on Thursday afternoon, Papadatou alleged that Pomerleau had over-reacted to the youth’s antics and had used his powers not to restrain, but to punish him.
She had challenged Pomerleau earlier in the day, during cross examination.
“I’m going to suggest to you that the only reason you used the (pepper) spray was to punish him,” she said to him.
Defence counsel Robb Beeman, also based in Calgary, argued that Pomerleau was acting within his rights as a police officer facing a serious threat from an intoxicated and unpredictable suspect.
Pomerleau became wary of JS at the outset, when it took two police officers to restrain and handcuff him before putting him into the back of the police car, said Beeman in his final arguments.
The pepper spray was necessary to calm JS down because he was kicking at the doors and windows in the police car, and additional force was required at the detachment because JS continued to act up at the desk and on the way to cells, he said.
The third incident occurred in the cell, when JS made obscene gestures to the video camera and appeared to have an unlit cigarette in his mouth.
Pomerleau himself testified that he felt obliged at that point to reenter the cell because he had obviously missed the cigarettes in his previous search of the suspect. He was therefore concerned that JS might have other possessions, such as a lighter, that could pose a threat.
Pomerleau said JS refused to cooperate with his demands, would not stand up for the search and, at one point, raised a fist toward him.
Fearing for his own safety and that of other people in the building, Pomerleau said he took JS down, admitting to punching him with the the soft sides of both fists at one point during the following fracas.
He denied leaving JS unconscious or in need of medical aid, stating that the youth was awake when he left the cell.
“He was asking for his mom and he was crying. He’s talking and he’s sobbing. That’s how he was when I left him,” Pomerleau testified under questioning from his counsel.
Beeman said his client was unaware if JS’s head had struck a concrete bunk or if his face had struck a steel grate, leaving him with a black eye and a broken nose.
“If he did hit his head, it wasn’t my intention,” said Pomerleau.
Pomerleau said he would have ordered medical attention for JS had he known it was required.
Judge Smith is to give her verdict from a room in the Leduc courthouse on June 13.
Following common practice, all officers of the court called to deal with the trial were selected from outside the jurisdiction where the offences are alleged to have occurred. That avoids conflicts of interests with judges and Crown prosecutors who may have had previous dealings with the accused, said Papadatou.