A Hamilton police officer who was found guilty of assault after punching a handcuffed man who had spat in his face received a suspended sentence and probation in court today.
Const. Kudo Park has been on administrative leave since 2015, when he punched a man who was being arrested. Court has heard the man's saliva went into Park's eyes and mouth. He was convicted of assault in April.
The Crown asked for the suspended sentence, while the defence was seeking a conditional discharge.
'The fact is he was spat on, and he was doing his job.' - Defence lawyer Gary Clewley
Neither comes with the prospect of jail time. The main difference is that with a suspended sentence, Park receives a criminal record.
Defence lawyer Gary Clewley said that despite that, he expects Park will be able to keep his job as a police officer.
"It always depends on the circumstances. There are all kinds of people out there with criminal records who are doing jobs," Clewley said.
"[The judge] didn't call him a bad guy. He didn't call him a bad cop. He didn't say he was unfit to serve. They didn't take his gun away."
Now, Park will likely face a discreditable conduct Police Services Act charge.
He will have no defence to that charge, Clewley said, which means Park will likely face a one-year demotion — which will be "further financial penalty" to the $25,000 to $30,000 Park has been out from not being able to attend court or sign up for paid duty police shifts.
"It's been a very difficult time for me," Park said in court Friday, prior to hearing the sentence from Ontario Court Justice Robert Gee.
"I've learned a lot from this experience. I want to continue to be a police officer.
"I'll never be on this side [of the court] ever again."
'A conditional discharge certainly doesn't cut it,' Crown says
In his decision, Gee said that a conditional discharge "would not [have been] in the public interest." He also said that Park failed to treat one of the community's most vulnerable with repect.
Gee also echoed the defence's sentiment that the assault was a "momentary lapse in judgement that happened over a short period of time."
Before the verdict was handed down, Crown Roger Shallow maintained that Park should receive a criminal record.
"What you've not heard here today is that Mr. Park is going to lose his job — lose his career as a police officer," he said.
"A conditional discharge certainly doesn't cut it."
Several police officers were in court Friday morning in support of Park.
Clewley said that he is held in high regard by his fellow officers, and has had an "unblemished career."
Park's probation lasts for 12 months, in which he has to keep the peace, report to a probation officer, and not come into contact with the man who spit on him.
Man was seen with a knife
The incident itself happened back in April of 2015, after someone called 9-1-1 and reported seeing a man walking on King Street West with a dog, waving a butcher knife.
Park was not the first officer to the scene. By the time he arrived, the knife had been taken from the man. But as Park got closer to assist two other officers and distract him, the man went from "compliant to belligerent," the judge said during a previous hearing.
"He reared his head back and spat in Officer Park's face," Gee said. "There was a large quantity of saliva that went in Park's eyes and mouth."
Park immediately punched the man. But a few moments later he returned where the man was being held on the ground. He believed the man was still out of control, he said earlier in the court proceeding. He then punched him two more times, which was the crux of the finding of guilt.