Closing arguments made in trial of police officer charged with assault
A judge will rule next month whether or not a Saskatoon police officer used excessive force when he punched and pepper-sprayed a 14-year-old teen.
Closing arguments in the trial of Const. Luke St. Onge were heard Tuesday at Saskatoon provincial court.
The officer is charged with assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon.
Court heard Monday St. Onge hit a teen and blasted him with pepper spray while the youth, who was 14 at the time, was held to the ground.
The teen testified he was missing from his group home on May 27, 2012, when he saw some police officers and started to run.
At the time, the officers were searching for a boy who was suspected of firing bear spray at St. Onge.
Const. Chad Nolan told court Monday that after he tackled the fleeing teen and pinned him face down on the ground, St. Onge struck the youth once in the head.
Another officer, Const. Joseph Taylor, testified he saw St. Onge make several punching motions towards the boy's head, but couldn't see if any of the punches connected.
The teen testified that he was punched in the face between 10 and 15 times. St. Onge said he punched the boy three to five times.
Taylor said the teen was also pepper sprayed.
The teen testified that his left eye was swollen shut for up to two weeks after he was hit and that he had extensive bruising to the left side of his face and his right ear.
The teen was not carrying a weapon at the time, but the defence argued Tuesday that the officers who were arresting him thought he was carrying a weapon because he refused to move his left arm from underneath him after police tackled him.
The officers also had reason to believe the teen was resisting arrest because he was squirming, the defence said.
The crown argued that punching was likely unnecessary as four officers were enough to hold down the 130-pound teen.
The defence said St. Onge followed proper police protocol, which calls for force if someone is resisting arrest and the use of pepper spray if someone continues fighting.
Judge Dan O’Hanlan will issue his verdict March 28.
St. Onge has since been suspended with pay.
with files from the Canadian Press