Three Saskatoon firefighters accused of assaulting police officers on the Broadway Bridge have been found not guilty.

On Wednesday, a provincial court judge dismissed all charges against the firefighters, who were off-duty when events unfolded on the bridge during the summer.

On Aug. 12, police spotted two men having what they said was a fight.

When officers tried to break it up, a third man joined the early morning melee.

 

'We are not in a police state.'—Morris Bodnar, defence lawyer

Clifford Hamilton, Jeffrey Tysdal and Keith Walliser were charged with assaulting and obstructing police officers.

Police testified it looked like a fight, but the firefighters maintained they were just roughhousing.

Before acquitting the three, the judge said there were discrepancies in the testimony of the police officers, compared to what was in their notes. The judge also noted police admitted on the stand that the firefighters tried to de-escalate the incident.

When the judge said the three were not guilty, applause erupted in the packed courtroom.

After court one of the defence lawyers, Morris Bodnar, said the differing accounts presented by the officers was important.

"It's crucial," Bodnar said. "But you know, contradictions occur sometimes when facts aren't there."

Bodnar said the officers misread the situation and overreacted.

"We are not in a police state," he said. "We live in a society where there are rules that have to be followed by everyone, including police officers."

In making his decision, Judge Barry Singer noted the police officers moved from conducting an investigation into what they saw on the bridge to making a number of arrests — and laying charges  — without talking to people who were trying to explain what was happening.

Outside court, acting fire department chief Dan Paulsen said he does not expect the ruling to sour relations between police officers and the fire department.