Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Windsor Police Officers found not guilty of discreditable conduct in investigation of Dr. Abouhassan case

Two Windsor police officers Paul Bridgeman and Patrick Keane have been found not guilty of charges of discreditable conduct in connection to a complaint made by Windsor resident Dr. Tyceer Abouhassan.  Charged under the Police Act, the two Staff Sergeants were accused of trying to broker a deal with Dr. Abouhassan to drop charges laid against the doctor in exchange for him to drop charges laid against a Windsor detective resulting from an altercation.

Though charges were eventually dropped against Dr. Abouhassan, Det. David Van Buskirk is set to go on trial this June following an outside agency charging him with excessive use of force, discreditable conduct, unlawful arrest and deceit for making a false record. 

Adjudicator Morris Elbers, a retired OPP superintendent, oversaw the Police Act hearing and concluded the prosecution’s case against the two Staff Sergeants failed to meet “the standard of clear and convincing evidence to make a finding of guilt”. 

The adjudicator’s 12-page decision stated that the investigation launched by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director relied largely on the testimony of Abouhassan’s lawyer, and on the notes of those involved.  Elbers commented that the lack of any notation by officer Keane on a meeting with Abouhassan’s lawyer was “distressing”, and described officer Bridgeman’s notes as being “dismal”.  Elbers further commented that Abhouhassan’s lawyer admitted to omissions made, and that the lawyer “concluded that all the meetings with the officers were ethical”.

In response to the case, the adjudicator stated that Windsor Police should put in place policies to guarantee this does not happen again, and suggested requiring police of superintendent rank or higher be present during meetings between police and defence lawyers. He stressed the importance of properly recording such meetings, a procedure necessary “to preserve the integrity of the investigation and the transparency of the organization.”

Elbers further suggested Windsor Police take “a hands-off approach when a member of their service is charged criminally”, and stated the department “should be enacting policy to prevent this situation from arising again.”

Acting Windsor police Chief Al Frederick stated that the department “takes all allegations of police misconduct very seriously”, however he expressed that he was pleased with the adjudicator’s decision.    

The allegations against the two Staff Sergeants stems from an altercation between Dr. Abouhassan and Det. Van Buskirk outside the Jackson Park Medical Centre on April 22, 2010.  Abouhassan has filed a $14.2-million claim against the Windsor Police, claiming he was beaten and seriously injured by Van Buskirk as a result of mistaken identity and was then wrongfully charged by Windsor Police in an alleged attempt to protect their own officers.

Posted by Ben Dillon (Windsor Law I) 

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