OPP officer awaits May 3 verdict in assault trial
OPP officer Brian Bellefeuille is charged with assault of a First Nations man in Geraldton jail cell
It will be more than two weeks before a judge makes a decision in the case of a Greenstone OPP officer charged with assaulting a First Nations man in February of 2012.
In a Thunder Bay court on Wednesday, Crown attorney Andrew Cappell said Constable Brian Bellefeuille’ version of events on the night of the alleged assault was "minimizing, fanciful, self-serving and not at all credible."
During his final arguments to the court, Cappell said Gary Megan was one of only two people arrested for public intoxication outside Geraldton's bar during a two-year period. Cappell said it was no coincidence that the arrest occurred just hours after Megan had "given the finger" to another officer.
It wasn’t "believable" Bellefeuille thought it was "no big deal" Megan gave another officer the finger, Cappell said.
"Then, lo and behold, it turns out Mr. Megan is the focus of police attentions" later that night, Cappell said, adding that it made no sense Bellefeuille testified to have believed Megan had a weapon, but didn't search him immediately.
Megan was in officer’s ‘bad books’
During a court recess, Bellefeuille was heard thanking Cappell in the hallway for agreeing to an earlier date for the court decision.
"No problem man," Cappell responded. "I know it's been rough between us, but I don't want you sitting around waiting."
Back in court, Cappell asked why police accepted the idea Megan would walk back home to Aroland First Nation, but assumed that he was lying about staying in Geraldton.
Cappell noted that, even if the arrest wasn't targeted, police did not satisfy reasonable grounds for arrest for public intoxication. If the arrest wasn't legal, Cappell said, then any application of force constitutes an assault.
But he said, even if the judge rules the arrest was lawful, legal precedent shows the onus is on police officers to prove excessive force was not used.
Megan was already in Bellefeuille's "bad books," so when Megan walked into the cell, "it was not going to take much to set him [Bellefeuille] off", Cappell said.
"Slamming Mr. Megan's head into the floor was not reasonable."
Defence lawyer Andrew McKay gave a brief response to Cappell's arguments saying the Crown had unfairly characterized Bellefeuille's evidence.
McKay said giving Megan toilet paper and water when he was bleeding in the cell was "very reasonable," and that the injury in the jail cell was "an unfortunate incident in relation to Mr. Megan's bad behaviour."
Final arguments were complete and the court was told a decision could be expected on May 3.
Cappell hugged Megan as court was adjourned.