(Advocate file photo)

Psychological assessment ordered for man involved in attack on RCMP officer

Two men pleaded guilty this week to robbery and trying to disarm an officer for role in 2019 attack

A psychological assessment has been ordered for one of the men involved in an attack on an RCMP officer on a rural road in December 2019.

Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Gillian Marriott agreed on Tuesday to a request from Johnathan Andrews’ lawyer that he receive a mental health assessment, as well as a pre-sentence report, which she can use when deciding on a sentence.

“There are some underlying psychological issues and we need to explore that,” Andrews’ lawyer Lonnie Allen told the judge.

A pre-sentence was also ordered for Chasetin Morin. Andrews and Morin pleaded guilty to attempting to disarm a police officer and robbery in court on Monday.

RCMP officer Const. Lottie Bell testified she feared for her life when she was jumped by three men after she stopped to help them on an isolated rural road in Red Deer County in December 2019.

Bell had pulled over to assist the men, whose vehicle was stuck, when she was violently thrown to the ground by Andrews. He and Morin then got on top of the five-foot-two, 130-pound officer and tried to pry her gun out of its holster in the 5:30 a.m. attack on Dec. 13, 2019.

The officer managed to hit the emergency button on her radio before a third man, Levi Bennink, ripped the radio cord out. He also pulled a microphone linked to her cruiser’s video system off her coat and threw it away.

Unable to get her gun, all three ran off and stole her police vehicle, which was parked nearby on Range Road 10 near the Burnt Lake Trail about 10 km west of Red Deer.

Bell fired at driver Morin as he drove past. Morin was not hit but Bennink was wounded in the calf. Andrews was hit in the foot, but the bullet did not penetrate his skin. A round hit the front windshield of her vehicle as it sped off.

The police vehicle ran off the road soon after and the three men were tracked down by a police dog and arrested nearby.

Bennink pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer and robbery last month and was sentenced to four years in prison.

Maurice Collard, who is representing Morin, and Andrews allege that their clients’ constitutional rights were violated because Bell used excessive force by firing the shots.

If the judge agrees there was a breach under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the lawyers want their clients to get lighter sentences as a remedy.

The case returns to court on Feb. 7 to get an update on the progress of the pre-sentence reports and the mental health assessment.

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