Saskatoon

OUTSaskatoon to meet with Chief Cooper after officer threatens to out man to family

In a post online, OUTSaskatoon pointed to the incident as one of the reasons it feels funding for the police needs to be reallocated to better serve the community.

OUTSaskatoon called the behavior abusive and malicious

Police were called to this hotel in the early morning of Oct. 27, 2019. Now, OUTSaskatoon has requested a meeting with Police chief Troy Cooper to discuss its concerns, as it called the officer's behavior malicious and abusive. (Dan Zakreski/CBC)

Officials from OUTSaskatoon will be meeting with Saskatoon police chief Troy Cooper after a member of the Saskatoon Police Service was recorded threatening to out a member of the LGBTQ community to his family.

In a statement on its Facebook page, the organization called the behaviour abusive and malicious, and said it "impacts the way that members of the 2SLGBTQ+​​​​​​ community experience the police as those who inflict harm as opposed to help."

Chief Cooper said in a statement sent to CBC on Sunday that a meeting between the two organization is set for this week to discuss the service's policies and to discuss the allegations outlined at a sentencing hearing on June 17 in Saskatoon Provincial Court.

"This is an important relationship for us, so when something happens that suggests there is a problem we need to stop and fix it," said Cooper.

Cooper said he's now asked for the incident to be investigated and said he hopes to discuss its preliminary findings at the meeting next week, saying the police service regularly meets with members of OUTSaskatoon.

The incident began at the Ramada Hotel in Saskatoon on Oct.27 when police were called by a woman who said there was an unknown, intoxicated man in her room who was fighting with people.

However, it was later learned the woman who called police had walked in on her friend having sex with the man, "and she freaked out," said Crown Prosecutor Ainsley Furlonger, who called the behaviour homophobic.

Man was scared parents would find out

Police arrived and said the man was initially co-operative and officers were set to drive the man home. However, that changed when the man revealed he was having oral sex with the woman's friend, and he was frightened this information would be revealed to his parents. Police officers said they were concerned about the man getting home safely, so they arrested him for public intoxication.

That is when he became belligerent, combative and verbally abusive, police said. This continued to escalate to the point that he headbutted an officer and spit in another officer's eye.

As officers were trying to subdue the man while in detention, an officer taunted him by threatening to reveal to his family he is gay. The man pleaded guilty to charges of assault and was given a six-month conditional discharge after Judge Doug Agnew accepted a joint sentencing submission.

"The comment was something like, 'OK, fine, let's call your Mom,' said Furlonger. "I think that probably came more out of exasperation, but it doesn't really matter."

In the post online, OUTSaskatoon pointed to the incident as one of the reasons it feels funding for the police needs to be reallocated.

"It is clear from the release of this article, that our attempts to provide education about how to respectfully interact with 2SLGBTQ+ community members has not translated into supportive and educated action on the part of the Saskatoon Police Service," OUTSaskatoon said in the post. "The behaviour of this officer is unacceptable."

In the statement sent to CBC, Cooper said he'll also be using this week's meeting as an opportunity to hear from the organization more broadly on what the service needs to do to build a stronger relationship.

"Policy and training are important, but we need to make sure they are actually resulting in a safe interaction between officers and the gender and sexually diverse community," said Cooper in the statement.

OUTSaskatoon said in the Facebook post it will be publishing the results of its meeting with the Saskatoon Police Service to ensure it's being fully transparent.

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