Hamilton police officer faces charges for actions against a city councillor
'People think that somehow politicians are superhuman,' says Coun. Sam Merulla
A former Hamilton undercover police officer faces a number of Police Services Act charges after he used "profane and insulting language" and contacted the friends and acquaintances of a city councillor, says a report from the Office Of Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD).
And he faces more charges for tweeting "you can all go f-ck yourselves" when he learned of the investigation.
Const. Paul Manning is charged with three counts of discreditable conduct, three counts of insubordination and one count of breach of confidence. Some charges are in regards to actions toward Coun. Sam Merulla, the report says, including allegedly tweeting a "nonsense cut and paste" image that implied the councillor was involved in criminal activity. Other charges are related to Manning's alleged actions following news of the investigation.
Merulla said Thursday that the ordeal has been stressful.
"People think that somehow politicians are superhuman," he said. "To be harassed at that level, including family, for 13 years in the midst of the elements that I had to deal with, and the type of suggestions and allegations, is just unconscionable."
Manning, meanwhile, said the report is "nothing more than retaliation" for his own lawsuit against the city and Hamilton Police Service.
Manning is on medical leave for post-traumatic stress disorder related to his work as an undercover officer. His lawsuit says the service's treatment or him was irreversibly damaging. He alleges that other officers blew his cover and failed to protect him during a 2006 attack.
Last fall, the city and service lost the right to defend themselves in the lawsuit.
Manning is also suing Merulla in a $24,000 libel suit in small claims court, alleging that Merulla defamed him on Twitter.
The OIPRD document says Manning and Merulla met briefly in 2005. Merulla said in the complaint that he began getting "strange emails," and someone fitting Manning's description questioned his friends and acquaintances.
The report says Manning also tweeted images of Merulla's home, as well as his daughter's home.
"The complainant regarded it as a joke at first, but it has taken a toll," the report says.
Manning served Merulla notice of his own suit at a council meeting Wednesday. He sat in the audience, and Merulla's lawyer received the papers on Merulla's behalf.
"We're good?" Manning said from the audience, pointing at Merulla.
"Have a good night," Merulla called back.
The investigation now rests with Hamilton Police Service, which will hold a public hearing at a later date. As for Merulla, he said he's done with Twitter.
"People have to understand that Twitter, if used as prescribed, is a great tool," he said. "Unfortunately, people like Mr. Manning are not using it as prescribed, and that's why we need regulatory changes."