Pot-smoking Mountie to plead not guilty and stand trial
Cpl. Ron Francis faces charge of assaulting a police officer in Fredericton
An RCMP corporal who made headlines for smoking medicinal marijuana while in uniform has been found fit to stand trial on three charges, including two counts of assaulting a police officer.
Cpl. Ron Francis appeared in provincial court in Fredericton on Monday after undergoing a 30-day psychiatric assessment in the Restigouche Hospital Center in Campbellton.
The psychiatric assessment was ordered Dec. 7 after Francis was charged with assaulting a police officer.
He was arrested Dec. 6 in Fredericton after a confrontation with fellow Mounties and Fredericton police officers.
In court on Monday, an additional charge of assaulting a police officer was laid. Francis was also charged with resisting arrest.
Francis did not enter a plea to the charges on Monday as his lawyer, T. J. Burke, requested more time to review the disclosed evidence.
Francis is scheduled to enter a plea on Feb. 4.
Francis given release with conditions
Outside the courthouse, Burke said Francis will be pleading not guilty.
"My client has instructed us, regardless of what is in the disclosure to enter a plea of not guilty and we'll have a criminal trial to determine his innocence or his guilt," Burke told reporters.
The Crown prosecutor consented to Francis being released, with conditions, until his next court appearance.
The conditions for release include:
- Not being in possession of a firearm.
- No use of alcohol or non-prescription drugs.
- No contact with the alleged victims.
In November, Francis was stripped of his RCMP uniform and placed on medical leave for smoking marijuana on video in his ceremonial gear. Francis had a prescription for the drug to treat his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
After his arrest, the RCMP had a Form 1 document, signed by a police doctor, that allowed Francis to be detained temporarily under the Mental Health Act.
Burke has previously questioned the RCMP's motives for seeking a psychiatric assessment of Francis.
"Was it a legitimate document? Was it a valid document?" asked Burke.
"Was it a document that was just created by the RCMP to see Mr. Francis sent away for 30 days so he would stop speaking about his issue with regards to medicinal marijuana to the press?"
No plan for corporal's treatment, lawyer says
Burke noted Monday that the RCMP still hasn't put an action plan in place to deal with Francis's PTSD.
"I'm not aware of any action plan the RCMP has put in place for him," said Burke.
"He has been gone for the past 30 days. He missed Christmas. He missed New Year's from his familyand he gets released today.
"The Mounties knew he was going to be released today, and yet they have no action plan put in place for treatment for Ron Francis," said Burke. "That, in and of itself, speaks volumes about the RCMP."
While Francis has been stripped of his RCMP uniforms, he remains a police officer, after he was placed on medical leave.
However, Burke said Francis's medical leave expired on Jan. 1.
"As of Jan. 1, he was no longer on medical leave and now it becomes an issue of what the RCMP feels is appropriate for him to do," said Burke.
"Cpl. Francis has a job to do and hopefully he can go back and do a job the RCMP accommodate him in doing," said Burke.
"It's been quite some time since he has carried a gun. He was put on a Category 4, which is basically you can have a badge, you can have a uniform, but you can't do any policing," he said. "So they've accommodated him in that aspect and I hope the RCMP continue to accommodate him."