The adjudicator of a police act hearing has found a Windsor police officer guilty of neglect of duty and discreditable conduct for his role in attempting to cover up the beating of a visually impaired doctor.
Staff Sgt. Paul Bridgeman was accused of trying to cover up Det. David Van Buskirk’s assault of Dr. Tyceer Abouhassan in April 2010.
The beating was caught on surveillance tape and Van Buskirk eventually pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to jail.
Police originally charged Abouhassan with assaulting a police officer. That charge was eventually stayed.
Bridgeman’s police act hearing stemmed from his role in laying the erroneous charges against Abouhassan.
The adjudicator on Friday said Bridgeman’s actions “undermined public confidence in police” and that it was “inconceivable” that Bridgeman did not realize there was a problem the first time he watched surveillance of the attack of “an obviously innocent man.”
'We failed him as an organization.' - Windsor police Insp. John St. Louis
"We failed him as an organization. He was a victim. We have a sworn duty — and not just Paul Bridgeman, but all officers, to protect victims," Windsor police Insp. John St. Louis said.
He called Bridgeman's misconduct "serious."
"And our request at penalty phase will reflect that," St. Louis said.
Bridgeman faces anything between reprimand and termination.
"He’s certainly shown his usefulness as a police officer and I cannot see the service ever looking for his termination," said Bridgeman's lawyer, Andrew McKay.
Windsor Police Association president Jason Dejong said the union is disappointed by the verdict.
"As an association we’re disappointed when any member is found guilty of an offence," he said. "An incident like this will reflect poorly on the service. Any sort of allegation against a police officer is disconcerting."
'An incident like this will reflect poorly on the service.' - Jason Dejong, Windsor Police Association
Dejong estimated there have been 300,000 interactions without incident between police and the public since Van Buskirk beat Abouhassan.
"We take pride in serving this community and doing a good job," Dejong said.
McKay said he and Bridgeman will take the next month or so deciding on whether to appeal the ruling.