British Columbia

Court hears B.C. Mountie twice convicted of punching Indigenous suspects

A veteran Mountie convicted of punching a handcuffed Indigenous teen in Terrace was previously convicted of punching an Indigenous suspect in a Prince Rupert jail cell more than a decade ago, his sentencing hearing has heard.

Veteran RCMP constable likely won't serve jail time for punching handcuffed teen in Terrace

A veteran RCMP officer is awaiting sentencing for punching a handcuffed teenager in the face during a violent arrest in Terrace in 2014. (Terrace Standard Newspaper )

A veteran RCMP officer convicted of punching a handcuffed Indigenous teenager was previously convicted of assaulting an Indigenous man in a jail cell more than a decade ago.

The earlier assault was revealed during a sentencing hearing for Terrace, B.C. Const. Bruce Lofroth.

Lofroth has worked as a police officer for almost 30 years, first with the Victoria Police and then as an RCMP officer and member of the Emergency Response Team in northern B.C.

Lofroth, 53, pleaded guilty this year to a 2014 assault during a violent arrest.

He was charged after a video of the incident was made public. 

The video was shown twice during Lofroth's four- hour sentencing hearing in B.C. provincial court in Terrace.

Lofroth punched handcuffed teen in face

The video shows a subdued teenager lying on the sidewalk in handcuffs offering no resistance, just before Lofroth punches him in the face.

The "depth of recoil of Lofroth's punching arm is indicative of the force used," said Crown prosecutor Michael van Klaveren.

RCMP Constable Bruce Lofroth was raised in Terrace and has policed the northwestern B.C. community for years. (City of Terrace)

Thirteen years prior to that sidewalk punch, in 2001, Lofroth was convicted of punching a man in a Prince Rupert jail cellblock.

At his sentencing hearing this week, the Crown stated the man, who Lofroth had arrested, kicked and spat at the officer. 

Lofroth unlocked the cell door and punched the prisoner, according to the Crown. The man fell to the floor and suffered a cut lip that required stitches.

Court heard Lofroth was under emotional stress at the time because of the death of his brother.

He was found guilty of the 2001 assault, but the judge granted him a conditional discharge and told him he expected this would never happen again.

But, now, it has.

At Friday's sentencing hearing, defence lawyer Brad Smith argued the two incidents were unrelated, separated by a period of 13 years.

'He has accepted responsibility'

Smith described Lofroth as a quiet family man, a father of two teenagers and a veteran Mountie "who doesn't hesitate to do the jobs others do not intend to do."

"He's the sort of man you'd like to have in your corner in a crisis." 

"He has accepted responsibility for what he has done," said Smith, who noted that the teen in the case had attacked Lofroth before he was subdued. 

"His career will not recover from this."

Smith called for a conditional discharge, which would mean no criminal record. He said Lofroth has already been disciplined by the RCMP for use of excessive force.

The lawyer also pointed out Lofroth had been on desk duty at reduced pay, had been permanently removed from the Emergency Response Team and had been embarrassed in his community by media coverage of the case.

Crown seeks suspended sentence

The Crown is seeking a suspended sentence, which would mean a criminal record for the veteran Mountie.

It is also asking for a number of conditions, including anger counselling for Lofroth, a letter of apology to the youth he struck and mandatory community work within the First Nations community. 

Judge Edmond de Walle, brought in from Salmon Arm for the sentencing, reserved his decision to a later date.