(CBC) – Closing arguments have wrapped up in the trial of a Yellowknife RCMP officer accused of assaulting a man in custody last year.
Const. Jason Muzzerall faces a charge of assault causing bodily harm in connection with the April 18, 2009, incident at the Yellowknife RCMP detachment.
Muzzerall is accused of pushing a man to the ground while taking him into police cells. He did not testify during the trial, which ran through Tuesday and Wednesday.
Territorial court Judge Bernadette Schmaltz adjourned the case until Thursday morning.
The Crown argued that it’s up Schmaltz to decide if the 29-year-old man who alleges the assault took place is a reliable witness.
The man testified that he had consumed about 25 drinks prior to his arrest outside the Gold Range bar in downtown Yellowknife around 1 a.m. MT.
The man testified that while he did not remember parts of the evening, he did clearly remember being in a police cell.
He then alleged that Muzzerall kicked his feet out from under him, causing him to fall and cut his forehead.
No video of alleged kick
“What I remember is when I went to the back cells. That’s when Muzzerall put his foot in front of me and threw me to the ground,” the man told the court Wednesday morning.
“I thought that’s when the [cut] happened because when I got up the floor was smeared with blood.”
In court, the man pointed to a scar above his left eyebrow.
However, there is no video footage of that alleged kick in the cell. Court heard that the police officer who investigated the assault complaint did not think that video was relevant, so he got rid of it.
What the court did see was another cellblock video showing the man falling as five officers were escorting him down a hallway at the detachment.
In the video, Muzzerall is seen standing behind the arrested man, holding his left arm, while another officer was at his right shoulder.
The man was shifting his weight to the right when he appeared to move quickly to the left, falling face first onto the ground, according to the video.
Assault took place in hall: Crown
Const. Benjamin Kershaw, who was there at the time but did not see the fall, testified on Tuesday that the Mounties were trying to guide the arrested man to the left.
Pointing to a dark patch on the video screen, Kershaw told the court that there was blood on the floor after the man stood up.
The Crown argued that Muzzerall was using excessive force while escorting the man down the hallway.
Muzzerall’s Calgary-based lawyer, Robb Beeman, argued that the officer used necessary force to control an uncooperative man in police custody.
Beeman also said the man, who is taller and heavier than Muzzerall, was throwing his weight around all night and his feet became tangled when he fell.
But on the stand, the man insisted that he remembers being kicked in the cell.
“If you guys have that video, it’d be nice to see it,” he told Beeman during cross-examination.
The man said while the video already shown in court proves that his forehead was cut earlier in the night, he maintained that he was assaulted after he was placed in a cell.