February 14, 2008
Susan Lazaruk, Canwest News Service
VANCOUVER - An RCMP corporal who Tasered a suspect six times at close range was cleared of excessive force charges Tuesday, but not before a provincial court judge repeatedly said she rejected the officer's versions of events and questioned his credibility.
Judge Frances Howard acquitted Cpl. Russ Hannibal of assault with a weapon because she "was left with a reasonable doubt" the force he used in an arrest was excessive. During a two-hour verdict, read Tuesday, Howard said, "I completely rejected a lot of his (Hannibal's) testimony," calling parts of it "obviously self-serving" and another "self-serving after-the-fact rationalizations."
But she also ruled the testimony of his former partner, Const. Tracey Sokolowski, which often conflicted with Hannibal's versions of events, in particular regarding the use of the electronic device on the suspect, was "not sufficiently reliable for a conviction."
Hannibal left the courtroom without comment. His lawyer, David Butcher, said "He's relieved. He's pleased it's all over."
Hannibal was charged after Sokolowski complained to superiors after Hannibal Tasered and pepper sprayed Robert Madeiros outside the Foggy Dew pub in Port Coquitlam, B.C., on Aug. 25, 2001. Hannibal had arrested Madeiros for alleged sexual assault after he patted Sokolowski's buttocks inside the pub while she was counting the number of people inside. Madeiros, who was intoxicated, immediately said he didn't realize she was an officer and quickly apologized. Sokolowski accepted the apology. When Sokolowski, a rookie with eight months on the job at the time, told Hannibal, who had several years with the RCMP, he immediately sought Madeiros out and escorted him outside. According to Hannibal, Madeiros resisted arrest, which led him to Taser the man six times.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Thursday, February 14, 2008
February 14, 2008