February 19, 2010
LUKE HENDRY, THE INTELLIGENCER
The lawyer for retired boxer Shawn O'Sullivan says his client is "a fine guy" who will get a strong defence in court.
Lawyer Bill Reid told The Intelligencer he is reluctant to comment in detail on the case given its early stage. "We're going to, I would say, proceed cautiously," Reid told The Intelligencer.
O'Sullivan was charged last November with mischief and assault after a west-end scuffle during what he called an attempt to recover his championship rings. The rings were stolen from his Belleville home in 2007.
Police responded and have confirmed they used a Taser-like device on O'Sullivan, whom they said was combative, shows signs of intoxication and resisted officers physically.
O'Sullivan, whose symptoms of being "punch-drunk" from his career leave him with occasionally slurred speech, has said he did not resist. He has claimed he tried to talk to officers and was still trying to co-operate as they Tasered him. He also alleges he was beaten.
The case first came before Belleville court Feb. 11.
Reid said he has received disclosure of the Crown's case against his client, a former Olympic boxing silver medallist and two-time World Cup champion now living in Belleville, but wants more information. "I've asked for some details from the Crown and we're going to have a further discussion on this coming in March," Reid said Wednesday from his Toronto office.
O'Sullivan, who last week carried the Olympic torch in North Vancouver, said he respects the justice system and understands the case must run its course. "That's our system and you've got to abide by it," said O'Sullivan.
Like O'Sullivan, Reid comes from Toronto's Irish community. He attended school with Shawn's brother, Brian O'Sullivan, and said he has known the boxer since before the latter gained his national profile as an athlete. Reid has spent most of his 26- year career in criminal litigation, taking cases ranging from high-profile murder trials to shoplifting. He was a Crown prosecutor in the Greater Toronto Area during the 1990s. He also teaches law and has defended other professional athletes, though he declined to name clients.
O'Sullivan first made public his allegation of police brutality during a January television interview about his career and life afterward. A deluge of media attention and public controversy followed his initial interviews with Global News and The Intelligencer.
The sudden interest in the case was overwhelming, O'Sullivan said. It was just like winning a world title again -- the amount of media it was getting," he said.
But he added he and Reid had yet to discuss the case at length and he, therefore, had little to add, especially given the earlier wide publication of his account. "I know what happened," he said.
Reid, meanwhile, said it isn't his usual style to draw a spotlight onto cases. "I don't think this is the kind of case to take into the media," Reid said. "I don't think Shawn likes these things to be, necessarily, public. I think it's good to deal with them discreetly and see what happens.
"Shawn is a fine guy," Reid said. "He's already said something in the media. I wouldn't purport to say it any better than that. I think it says a lot.
"Let me put it this way: I think it has a ring of truth to it, and we'll see how it stands up."
"His whole family has been supportive through this," he added.
Reid said he would defend O'Sullivan "vigorously."
He said he'll review that information and do further research before commenting in any depth. Reid said his approach to the case will be determined largely by the Crown's intentions. He would not comment on any potential plea O'Sullivan might enter. "At this point truly all his options are open," he said.
O'Sullivan has said he plans to file an official complaint against police. That has not happened yet, but Reid and O'Sullivan said it remains a possibility.
"That will have its day," said O'Sullivan.
But for now, said Reid, he'll await further details from the Crown.
"Let's see what the other side says."
O'Sullivan's pre-trial hearing -- a meeting between a judge, the Crown attorney and defence -- is scheduled for March 11 in Belleville before Justice Stephen Hunter.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Friday, February 19, 2010
February 19, 2010