Witness credibility questioned in police trial

Defence lawyer accused first witness of "waffling all over the place," on the second day of the trial.

Second day of a trial for two Ottawa police officers accused of assaulting a man in August 2011

The trial of two Ottawa police officers accused of assaulting a man in August 2011 continued with the cross examination of witness River Doucette by defence lawyer Michael Edelson.

Edelson questioned Doucette's accounts of the events and said she was contradicting herself.

The trial of constables Colin Bowie and Thanh Tran started Monday.

Ontario's Special Investigations Unit charged the constables with one count each of assault causing bodily harm. It stems from an incident after the officers responded to a call about a man sleeping on a sidewalk along Henderson Avenue in Sandy Hill.

The SIU said the officers assaulted Hugh Styres, who was eventually arrested and sustained injuries.

Hugh Styres said he plans to fight the charges against him. (CBC)

The charges were also laid due to witness accounts from Tasha Doucette and her daughter River. The elder Doucette had called police to alert them about Styres lying on the sidewalk. But she said the officers were rough with the man as she watched from behind a bush.

The younger Doucette, who sat in the witness box on Monday and Tuesday, said she made notes right after the alleged assault on Styres, which are now with the SIU.

On Monday, Edelson, representing Bowie, focused on a supposed inconsistency between Doucette's original statement and court testimony, including if Styres stood on his own or if he was lifted up and how close she was standing to the area where the incident happened.

River Doucette said she saw the police officers push and trip an intoxicated Styres, and heard his head hit the ground as a pool of blood formed.

Doucette's account questioned

Edelson questioned Doucette on all the details about the incident, including where everyone's feet and hands were. On Tuesday, Edelson said Doucette had given 11 different versions of the same event.

"You're waffling all over the place," said Edelson.

This is a cropped version of a photo taken by Tasha Doucette as police dealt with Hugh Styres, a homeless man who was sleeping on a sidewalk. (CBC)

"Are you making this up as we go along," asked Edelson, a lawyer known for intense, probing cross-examination.

He accused Doucette of having convenient amnesia and reading her mother's notes so the stories match.

Doucette said she did not make anything up, but said because it was an incident from two years ago her memory of the details "may be off. But I know he was tripped and sent face first into the ground."

Doucette also said on Tuesday that she "probably should not have said" that the police officers were "f***ing pigs."

"It's not like I hate all cops," she said.

The elder Doucette, who is not in court, is also expected to sit in the witness box during the trial.

Edelson accused River Doucette of adopting her mother's version.

On Tuesday, Edelson asked the judge to exclude River Doucette's grandfather from court, so he can't report back to the elder Doucette on her testimony.

Without an objection from the prosecution, the judge agreed to exclude the grandfather "out of an abundance of caution," he said.

The SIU investigates all reports involving police that lead to death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.

Charge against alleged victim dropped

The Crown had originally charged Styres with assaulting police after he allegedly took a swing at police, but missed. The charge was later dropped.

Styres is also suing the Ottawa Police Service for $500,000.

Doucette was accused of waffling all over the place by defence lawyer Michael Edelson.

In his statement of claim for that lawsuit, Styres said he was intoxicated and can't remember the incident, but said he woke up as he was getting an MRI scan.

Styres alleged two officers "without provocation" used excessive force, "causing him to strike or fall to the ground with extreme force and, in particular, causing his head to strike the ground with extreme force."

The blow fractured bones around his eye, loosened teeth and fractured the upper left jawbone, he said in his statement of claim.

None of the claims in the civil lawsuit have been proven in court.