Canada

Ottawa police officer pleads guilty to assault

An Ottawa police officer who was videotaped slamming a woman's head onto the trunk of his cruiser almost five years ago has pleaded guilty to assault.

An Ottawa police officer who was videotaped slamming a woman's head onto the trunk of his cruiser almost five years ago has pleaded guilty to assault.

Const. Martin Cardinal changed his plea Monday on what was to be the first day of his retrial for assaulting Julie Cayer on Nov. 25, 2000. The videotape attracted national attention to the case.

Justice Donald Kirkland found Cardinal guilty of assault in January 2003, but Cardinal appealed the decision, and won the right to have a new trial, which was set to begin on Monday.

He will be sentenced next week.

Cardinal was convicted largely because of an amateur videotape of the assault taken by a witness on a nearby balcony. The video showed Cayer handcuffed and bent over the trunk of the officer's cruiser.

Cardinal said Cayer had tried to rear back and that he was losing his balance. He said he shook her twice, adding that it was his hand, not her head, that hit the cruiser.

After viewing the tape "countless" times, Kirkland said he did not believe Cardinal's version of events.

Cayer was being arrested for public intoxication and had a history of being difficult with police, as the judge noted.

However, Kirkland said the tape showed Cayer did not rear back and that Cardinal was always in control. As a result, Kirkland determined that the officer used excessive force.

Cardinal has been suspended with pay since 2001. He also faces disciplinary charges under the Police Services Act.