Officer admitted kicking homeless man in head: court testimony

The first investigator on the scene of an alleged attack on a homeless man by two off-duty Calgary police officers testified Tuesday that one of the constables said he "kicked him in the head."
Const. Dino Izzo, left, and Const. Roland Stewart, right, leave the Calgary courthouse on Monday. ((CBC))

The first investigator on the scene of an alleged attack on a homeless man by two off-duty Calgary police officers testified Tuesday that one of the constables said he "kicked him in the head."

William McCormack, 46, says he was sleeping in a warm stairwell of the downtown police administration building in November 2007 when two constables woke him up and punched and kicked him, leaving him with a broken rib and a gash to the forehead.

The incident is alleged to have happened in front of a door that leads to the police gym and lockers.

On Tuesday, Sgt. Kevin Knight testified that he walked past blood at the bottom of the stairs and then entered the gym, where he saw Const. Dino Izzo and Const. Roland Stewart playing racquetball.

Knight said he asked the officers if they heard about a disturbance with a drunken man, and Izzo responded: "Yes, we came down to play racquetball. Tried to wake him, asked him to show his hands. He refused. Then kicked him in the head."

Calgary police said the altercation took place at the bottom of this stairwell in the downtown police administration building. ((CBC))

At that point, Knight told Izzo not to say anything further, Knight testified.

Izzo, who has been with the Calgary force for nine years, and Stewart, who was hired in 2005, are each charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm.

Their defence lawyers tried to poke holes in McCormack's testimony earlier on Tuesday when they cross-examined him.

"It's easy to make allegations, sir, but it's harder to come up with the details," Willie DeWitt, Izzo's defence lawyer, said to McCormack. "I suggest to you, you were never punched going up the stairs, and think you weren't punched in the ribs at all."

"Yes I was," McCormack responded.

Complainant has long criminal record

DeWitt and Don MacLeod, the constables' lawyers, introduced McCormack's criminal record — which includes three convictions, for obstructing a police officer, uttering threats, and public mischief — to support their contention that he has a grudge against police. From 1980 to 2008, McCormick also had 19 convictions for theft or possession of stolen property, five for impaired driving and one for assault.

William McCormack, 46, was cross-examined in a Calgary courtroom on Tuesday. ((CBC))

"I like the police when they help me; I just don't like them when they abuse me," McCormack said.

The defence suggested on Tuesday that McCormack was hit only once, when he wouldn't show the officers his hands, and again when he wouldn't leave.

The lawyers also suggested McCormack was drunk and cut his face when he stumbled up the stairs.

On Monday, McCormack testified he fell asleep in the warm stairwell after drinking and doing drugs. He said two men who identified themselves as officers woke him up and attacked him.

McCormack identified his attackers primarily by the clothing they wore. He said the shorter man in a white sweater did most of the punching and kicking, while the taller man wore a blue sweater.

With files from Peter Akman