June 16, 2011
Betsy Powell, Toronto Star
A prosecutor has suggested a Toronto police officer tried to conceal the fact he threatened to Taser two burglary suspects and only came clean after his arrest.
Christopher Hominuk, 38, a type 1 diabetic, blames his low blood sugar level for his aberrant, violent behaviour during the May 24, 2010 incident.
He has testified at this week’s sentencing hearing that he pleaded guilty to one count of threaten bodily harm because he immediately wanted to take responsibility.
But Crown attorney Philip Perlmutter noted Wednesday the incidents only came to light weeks later after a superior officer “stumbled” across the incidents while reviewing in-car video recordings for an unrelated purpose.
“You were quite prepared to let this pass if you could,” in order to protect your job, Perlmutter said during cross examination in the Ontario Court of Justice.
The prosecutor also suggested Hominuk wrote “low blood sugar” in his notebook just in case things “blew up,” making no mention of the Taser threats which he knew the in-car cameras had recorded.
The guilty plea came only as a result of knowing about the damaging video footage, Perlmutter stated. “You had no choice.” Hominuk shook his head and said he had been scared.
Perlmutter also played segments of other video footage showing Hominuk outside his cruiser before and after making the threats where he appears “perfectly normal and fine.”
Hominuk responded that may be how he looked but he insisted he was in a confused state.
He did, however, agree that he didn’t take adequate precautions to guard against a hypoglycemic episode.
On that day, Hominuk started his 3 p.m. shift after only eating a bowl of cereal and was, in fact, not wearing a blood sugar monitoring device as was previously suggested because it caused him discomfort and malfunctioned.
“It was pretty irresponsible not to eat,” Perlmutter said.
“To a degree, yes,” replied the tall, grey-haired man who was diagnosed with the disease at 15. He added later that after following a strict regime for two decades, you can “back off a bit. You get complacent after 20 years.”
But he disagreed with Perlmutter’s suggestion that he has, over the years, put himself and the public at risk by failing to notify Toronto Police medical services about incidents where he has lost consciousness due to low blood sugar levels.
The maximum sentence Hominuk could face is 18 months in jail. The Crown is asking for a jail sentence. Defence lawyer Peter Brauti is seeking a non-custodial sentence.
Regardless of the sentence, Hominuk will still face a disciplinary tribunal that will determine whether he keeps his job.
Outside court, Brauti said he was shocked to learn from the Toronto Police Service an officer can remain on the job after a period of incarceration — something he said was unprecedented in Ontario.
A TPS spokesman told the Toronto Star that “each case is dealt with on a case-by-case basis.”
Final arguments are expected Thursday.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Thursday, June 16, 2011
June 16, 2011