Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia army corporal acquitted of bad-conduct charges

A military judge has acquitted an army reservist accused of striking a superior officer and using a racial slur with a civilian worker, following a court martial last week in Kentville, N.S.

Garett Rollman found not guilty of striking superior officer and using racial slur

Nova Scotia army reservist Garett Rollman was acquitted of three bad-conduct charges after a court martial in Kentville, N.S., last week. (Frédéric Pepin/Radio-Canada)

A military judge has acquitted an army reservist accused of striking a superior officer and using a racial slur with a civilian worker, following a court martial last week in Kentville, N.S.

Retired corporal Garrett Rollman was charged with striking his superior officer and two charges of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline after an alleged incident at the military base in Aldershot, N.S., in late February 2016. He pleaded not guilty to all three charges.

The Canadian Armed Forces announced the acquittal Friday in a news release, but it did not include the reasons for the decision by Cmdr. Sandra Sukstorf, the military judge who heard the case.

Rollman's co-worker, Cheryl Richard, told the court martial that Rollman entered the kitchen at Aldershot and spoke about a video that he'd viewed where a black woman was sponging her hair due to it being "nappy."

"I said, 'Excuse me,' and he said, 'Nappy hair, you know like yours,'" she testified, adding she immediately left the area, upset by the comment.

Alleged racial slur

The woman explained the term is "a racial slur they used a long time ago saying that black people have knotty hair because they didn't have the means of working with their hair. It's a racial slur that white people use."

The prosecution alleged that the following day, Rollman was standing near Richard when he pushed garbage containers across the kitchen and shouted insults and profanities at her.

The woman said she left the kitchen area and complained to Sgt. Earl Smith  — the second in command of the area.

At that point, Smith stood up, and "Cpl. Rollman hit the sergeant's hand out of the way and took up a boxer's stance," before more yelling ensued and Rollman left Smith's office, the prosecution said.

During defence cross-examination, Richard told the court martial that she had sometimes complained about Rollman's behaviour in the past, and that he had launched a workplace harassment case against her prior to the incident.