Police officer struck men in stolen truck, court told

An Edmonton man told a judge Thursday that a police constable punched him in the cheek after he and another man were stopped by police on Dec. 15, 2008.

An Edmonton man told a judge that a constable punched him in the cheek after he and another man were stopped on Dec. 15, 2008.

Lauchlin Torry, 56, was testifying Thursday at the trial of Const. Haoyin Zheng in Edmonton provincial court.

Zheng is charged with two counts of assault and one count of assault with a weapon in the alleged beating of Torry and Jean-Marc Viau, 47.

Torry told court that he and Viau were sitting in a truck when police boxed them in on an alley at 145th Street and 104th Avenue in west Edmonton.

The two men were ordered out of the truck, which was later found to have been stolen.

When police searched Torry, they found a piece of a coat hanger in his back pocket, which Torry claimed he used as a toothpick.

That's when the constable yelled at him, called him a "druggie" and punched him on the cheek, Torry told the judge.

When Zheng's lawyer, Kirk MacDonald, suggested Torry received nothing more than an open-handed shove to the shoulder, he insisted the constable was physically and verbally abusive.

Screamed for help

In testimony Wednesday, Viau said that Zheng grabbed his ball cap, then hit him once on the jaw and twice on the head with a flashlight while demanding to know where the keys for the truck were.

When Viau was put into the back of the police car, Zheng leaned in, tackled him and punched him repeatedly in the head, Viau said.

He got scared and screamed for help after the constable started to punch him in the ribs.

Another police officer took Viau to hospital for treatment of scrapes and bruises.

In his cross-examination, MacDonald suggested to Viau that the constable never punched or hit him, but Viau did not deviate from his story.

Both Torry and Viau acknowledged they have criminal records. Viau gave his testimony while wearing prison overalls and handcuffs while Torry wore leg shackles and handcuffs. He is currently serving a 90-day sentence for stealing meat.

Zheng had been on the job for about two years when he was charged.