Key Crown witness nervous at trial of 2 police officers
Tasha Doucette takes the stand after two days of testimony from daughter River Doucette
The Crown's key witness was nervous and felt sick when she took the stand Wednesday, forcing the trial of two Ottawa police officers charged with assault causing bodily harm to end early for the day.
The trial of constables Colin Bowie and Thanh Tran started Monday.
Ontario's Special Investigations Unit charged the constables after the officers responded to a call about a man, Hugh Styres, who was sleeping on a Sandy Hill sidewalk in August 2011.
The SIU said the officers assaulted Styres, who was arrested and suffered injuries.
Tasha Doucette called police to notify them about Styres sleeping on the sidewalk, and said the officers were rough with the man as she and her daughter, River Doucette, watched from behind a bush.
Tasha Doucette took the stand Wednesday following defence lawyer Michael Edelson's cross examintation of River Doucette, who was a minor at the time of the incident in 2011.
Mother nervous, felt nauseous
Tasha Doucette told the Crown she felt nauseous, but that she didn't need a break.
She said she felt she was being stared at by one of the accused officers, but the judge told her the accused were simply looking at her, which was fine.
Doucette then testified that she was walking with her daughter in Sandy Hill when they saw a grey-haired man passed out at around 5:30 a.m. or 6 a.m.
Her daughter River Doucette, who was 17 at the time, expressed concern, and so her mother called 911.
The dispatcher asked a series of questions, then asked Tasha Doucette to stay at the scene until police arrived. She testified that she didn't want to at first, but stayed.
Tasha Doucette said that when police arrived, she saw the two officers try to rouse him. She said the man was groggy and swaying from side to side.
She said the Asian officer was in front of Styres, while the Caucasian officer was slightly behind him.
The trial then adjourned for the day because Tasha Doucette wasn't feeling well.
Edelson questions River Doucette's memory
On Wednesday morning, Edelson continued his cross-examination of now-19-year-old River Doucette.
He began by asking her about a six-hour car ride she took to a music camp not long after watching the alleged assault on Styres. River Doucette gave a vague description of the driver, and Edelson asked how she could remember the alleged assault that lasted only a minute or two in 2011, but not the driver of the car.
River Doucette replied that watching the alleged assault was traumatic, and that the car ride wasn't.
Edelson said the driver is a civilian member of the Ottawa police, and may be called as a defence witness.
Edelson also told court he believes River Doucette's account of what happened was influenced by a conversation she had with a Carleton University professor who's vocally critical about Ottawa police.
River Doucette also sat in the witness box on Monday and Tuesday. She said she made notes right after the alleged assault on Styres, which are now with the SIU.
Edelson focused Monday on a supposed inconsistency between Doucette's original statement and court testimony, including if Styres stood on his own or if he was lifted up and how close she was to the area where the incident happened.
River Doucette said she saw the police officers push and trip an intoxicated Styres, and heard his head hit the ground as a pool of blood formed.
On Tuesday, Edelson questioned River Doucette on all the details about the incident, including where everyone's feet and hands were. He said River Doucette had given 11 different versions of the same event.
"You're waffling all over the place," said Edelson.
Styres suing Ottawa police
Styres was charged with with assaulting police after he allegedly took a swing at police, but missed. The charge was later dropped.
Styres is suing the Ottawa Police Service for $500,000. In his statement of claim, Styres said he was intoxicated and can't remember the incident, but said he woke up as he was getting an MRI scan.
Styres alleged two officers "without provocation" used excessive force, "causing him to strike or fall to the ground with extreme force and, in particular, causing his head to strike the ground with extreme force."
The blow fractured bones around his eye, loosened teeth and fractured the upper left jawbone, he said in his statement of claim.
None of the claims in the civil lawsuit have been proven in court.