Detective who beat blind doctor gets 5 months jail
David Van Buskirk granted appeal opportunity and free on bail
A judge sentenced Windsor Police Det. David Van Buskirk to five months in jail Wednesday after he pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm last week.
The defence appealed the sentence and Van Buskirk was granted bail. He posted the necessary $5,000 and was released. His appeal will likely be heard in the fall.
Not long after the bail hearing, the Windsor Police Service suspended the detective without pay.
Van Buskirk attacked Dr. Tyceer Abouhassan, who is legally blind, in a parking lot two years ago in Windsor, Ont.
Justice Donald Ebbs said a conditional sentence was "tempting" but "contrary to the misconduct committed."
The Crown prosecuter described the assault as "entirely unprovoked" and is seeking a jail term, while the defence argued it's not necessary.
Abouhassan suffered a broken nose, bruised ribs, a torn eyelid and detached retina in the beating.
Sentencing 'a unique balancing act'
Lawyer Julian Falconer, who is representing Abouhassan in a civil lawsuit, spoke with CBC News prior to the sentencing.
"The court is charged with the responsibility of balancing the jail term the prosecution is asking for against the mitigating factors that officer Van Buskirk's lawyer has brought to the court's attention," he said. "That's a unique balancing act. We have to wait to see what the court does with it."
The defence wanted a non-custodial sentence of house arrest. The Crown sought a jail term between six and eight months in length.
There were so many observers that the proceedings were moved to a larger courtroom.
Ebbs said Van Buskirk made a "drastic error" in leaving his office in an unmarked cruiser to seek out a man alleged to have been following his daughter near where he found Abouhassan on April 22, 2010.
Ebbs said he was also "surprised" the area was not taped off or secured as a crime scene for identification purposes.
Police originally charged Abouhassan with assault. That charge was eventually dropped by police.
"Thank heavens for that," Ebbs said Wednesday.
He said it was clear no such conduct occurred.
The failure of police to look for witnesses at the medical building where the assault took place was worrisome, he added.
Police chief apologizes
At a media conference Wednesday afternoon, acting Windsor Police Chief Al Frederick called Van Buskirk's actions "deeply disturbing."
"On behalf of the Windsor Police Service, I sincerely apologize to Dr. Abouhassan and his family, as well as to the members of our community, for the assault as admitted in court last week by Det. Van Buskirk," Frederick said.
The chief could say little more. Van Buskirk still faces a charge of deceit and discreditable conduct, unnecessary exercise of force and an unlawful arrest at an upcoming Police Act Hearing. He also faces a charge of public mischief.
"I must remain cognizant that Det. Van Buskirk has a charge of public mischief before the criminal courts. I cannot provide detailed comments ... at this time," Frederick said.
Frederick then again condemned Van Buskirk for his actions against Abouhassan.
"I wish to emphasize, in the strongest possible terms, the conduct of Det. Van Buskirk in this incident is not representative of the professional dedicated work done by the men and women of the Windsor Police Service on a daily basis," Frederick said. "This conduct of any type or degree is not and has never been acceptable to the members of our organization or the community."