Man who claims officer beat him fails to ID cop in court

A man who claims he was kicked in the stomach by a Winnipeg police officer couldn't identify the officer in court on Wednesday.
Henry Lavallee, who claims to have been kicked in the stomach by Winnipeg police Const. Ryan Law faces intense cross-examination at Law's assault trial. 1:30

A man who claims he was kicked in the stomach by a Winnipeg police officer couldn't identify the officer in court on Wednesday.

Const. Ryan Law, 28, who is the nephew of former police chief Keith McCaskill, is charged with aggravated assault against Henry Lavallee. Law has pleaded not guilty.

Lavallee and another man were arrested in November 2008 for breaking into a car in the city's Exchange District. The two men were taken to the Public Safety Building (PSB) and placed in a holding cell.

The Crown alleges Law walked in and kicked Lavallee in the stomach. The impact was so hard that Lavallee began vomiting and passing blood, before he underwent surgery for a ruptured colon, court was told when the trial began Monday.

Under intense cross-examination on Wednesday afternoon, Law's lawyer accused Lavallee of being rude and offensive with the police officers who arrested him that day.

Richard Wolson went over Lavallee's criminal record, noting 75 to 80 arrests and more than 50 convictions for theft, assault, break and enter, fraud and other offences.

"I don't keep score," Lavallee said in court.

Wolson asked Lavallee if he had sworn at the officers who arrested him, to which Lavallee responded, "Maybe."

Lavallee admitted that he has spat on police officers in past altercations, even though he knew he has hepatitis C.

Could not identify officer

Earlier on Wednesday, the Crown played a video of Lavallee being admitted to the Remand Centre, where he was transferred after the PSB.

In the video, Lavallee refers to the officer who kicked him as the "driver."

When asked in court if he could identify the person who kicked him, Lavallee replied, "No. It's been a long time. People change their looks."

On Monday, court heard that Lavallee's mother had filed a complaint with the Law Enforcement Review Agency after the incident, and an officer from the Professional Standards Unit was assigned to the case.

Det. Sgt. Randy Levasseur testified that Lavallee had memorized the badge number of the officer who kicked him, but the number he gave was one digit off from the one assigned to Law.

Levasseur said he identified Law and his partner as the two officers who brought Lavallee to the remand centre.

Levasseur told the court he showed Lavallee a pack of photographs, but Lavallee could not identify Law from the images shown.

Slapped in face

In court, Lavallee recalled the night of the arrest and said one of the officers was mouthy and aggressive. Lavallee said the young officer acted like it was his first arrest.

"He was jumpin' around like it was his first ice cream cone," he said.

He told the court they were put into a cruiser car and taken to the PSB.

Lavallee said he and the other man arrested were slapped in the face by each officer when they got out of the cruiser car in the basement of the PSB, then they were placed in separate holding rooms.

Lavallee said he was lying on the floor when the cell door opened and the officer came in, looked down, kicked him in the stomach, then walked out and closed the door.

Lavallee was then shown video footage of the officers and remand centre staff asking him to remove some of his clothes. He moans on the tape several times as he tries to remove his shoes.

As he listened and watched Wednesday, Lavallee started crying softly.

"I never felt like that in my life. I was so sore," he said.

Lavallee said that after he was kicked, and before being moved to the Remand Centre, he saw a police sergeant but didn't say anything about the assault "because they stick to themselves."

He testified he was put in a holding room at Remand where he passed out and was revived, but passed out again. He said he finally woke up at St. Boniface Hospital.