May 14, 2010
LUKE HENDRY, THE INTELLIGENCER
The use of a Taser-like device in the November arrest of Shawn O'Sullivan by Belleville Police was unnecessary and could soon be at the centre of a formal complaint against police, his lawyer says.
Charges of mischief and assault against O'Sullivan, 48, of Belleville were withdrawn Thursday in Belleville court. He entered into a six-month peace bond requiring him to avoid contact with a man with whom he scuffled during an attempt to locate his stolen boxing championship rings.
O'Sullivan is a 1984 Olympic boxing silver medallist.
His lawyer, Bill Reid, said Thursday he and O'Sullivan are still considering making the complaint. It must be made within six months of the incident. O'Sullivan was arrested Nov. 28.
Police said O'Sullivan was agitated, showed signs of intoxication and took a "combative" stance with officers.
O'Sullivan said he was looking for information about his stolen rings. He said he was peaceful with police and though he had been drinking and wasn't drunk. He told The Intelligencer he was still asking officers what was happening when the stun gun was fired at him.
"It (the Taser) was resorted to all too quickly," Reid said.
The retired boxer said he was happy with the end of the criminal case against him and praised Crown attorney Jodi Whyte.
"I think she's great," he said. "She's kind."
O'Sullivan's speech is at times slurred, the result of a distinguished yet punishing boxing career. When combined with the smell of alcohol it could lead someone to believe he was drunk, Reid said.
"I can see the police being fooled by that," Reid said. "You still have a duty to inquire."
He said an officer responding to a 911 call at the house last November talked to the complainant before heading outside to arrest O'Sullivan.
Reid said his client wasn't given a fair chance to speak with police.
"He simply wanted to make his case to the police," he said. "There was no room given to him to make that happen. It would have changed the dynamic of that encounter. That's an issue. It raises questions."
Reid said he had reviewed police evidence, including video, and that O'Sullivan was "by no means falling down drunk at all."
O'Sullivan respects and was even trained by police and "has a very good rapport" with them, Reid said.
But he stopped short of an outright critique of police.
"I don't want to see this inquiry be an absolute condemnation of (the officer)," he said.
"Certainly it is not. In truth I believe the police have been fair as well," he added, explaining that like the Crown, they have treated the criminal case and concerns about the arrest as separate matters.
"The police are concerned about his rings," he added.
The rings were stolen in 2007 and have never been recovered. In addition to the usual reward offered from Crime Stoppers a total of $6,000 in private rewards has been offered for their return.
Police Chief Cory McMullan said O'Sullivan is entitled to complain.
"Certainly if they wish to make a complaint we will do an investigation," she said.
"Whether there was a conviction ... or whether there has been a peace bond entered into does not impact whether or not the proper use of force was applied or was not applied," said the chief.
When police use force, she said, "there are reports that are required and they're reviewed by our training officers and any concerns regarding those would have been brought forward and we would deal with them whether there was a complaint made or not."
She said senior staff also review those reports.
Officers responding to a call "have to take into account all of the circumstances at the time," said McMullan.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Friday, May 14, 2010
May 14, 2010