22-month trial delay
causes judge to stay charges
against cops accused of
beating, Tasering senior

Jennifer Saltman, The Province, March 6, 2013


A judge has stayed charges against two police officers accused of assaulting a Surrey senior because their case took too long to get to trial.

“I find that a 22-month delay in this case is not reasonable. Therefore, I find that the accused’s rights pursuant to Section 11 via the Charter to be tried within a reasonable time have been infringed,” B.C. Provincial Court Judge Ronald Lamperson said Wednesday.

Surrey RCMP Const. Mitchell Spears and Transit Police Const. Ken Jansen were charged with assault in connection with an incident that took place on April 22, 2010.

Spears also faced a charge of assault with a weapon.

The day of the incident, Surrey RCMP were called to investigate a complaint that Robert Keith Booker, now 77, had chased his landlord with a knife.

Booker was arrested under the Mental Health Act and taken to Surrey Memorial Hospital, where the alleged attack took place.

Spears was accused of pinning Booker down in a chair and grabbing his neck. Spears and Jansen were then seen on top of Booker and Jansen was seen delivering knee strikes. At one point Spears allegedly Tasered Booker.

Booker required stitches above his eye. The Crown had alleged that the assault was unprovoked.

Charges were laid in October 2010 and in March 2011 the case was scheduled to go to trial in July 2012.

However, the Crown received new evidence regarding use of force a few weeks before the trial.

The Crown shared the evidence with defence, but Spears’s lawyer asked for an adjournment because of the late disclosure.

Lamperson said the actions of the Crown resulted in the first trial being adjourned — if the Crown had disclosed the expert reports sooner or decided to proceed without them, the July 2012 trial would have gone ahead.

A new trial was eventually scheduled for February and April 2013.

“The case before me is a serious one. The case is made more serious by the fact that the two accused alleged to have committed the assault are police officers whose duty it is to enforce criminal laws,” Lamperson said.

Lamperson said that ideally all serious cases would be tried on their merits in a timely manner, but, after balancing the length of the delay, the reasons, the prejudice to the accused and society’s interest in the case, the delay was unreasonable.

Spears and Jansen still face discipline from their respective police forces.

On Feb. 12, the Transit Police disciplinary authority found that Jansen used excessive force and deceit in the incident, and was guilty of discreditable conduct. Jansen faces discipline up to and including dismissal. Jansen has been suspended with pay since September 2010.

According to the RCMP, Spears has been suspended with pay since October 2010. He faces a formal disciplinary hearing, for which a date has not yet been set.

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