Kamloops Mountie pleads guilty to assault

Charge was on connection to altercation with homeless man in summer of 2017

A Kamloops police officer who beat a homeless man while arresting him last year might not have a criminal record despite admitting his guilt to a provincial court judge.

RCMP Const. Todd Henderson pleaded guilty on Thursday in Kamloops provincial court to one count of assault.

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He had been charged with aggravated assault but prosecutors agreed to reduce the charge in exchange for a guilty plea.

Court heard Henderson was one of three Mounties who responded to an altercation between a homeless man and a bylaw officer in Sahali on Aug. 25, 2017.

The bylaw officer was attempting to take a photo of the homeless man for records purposes.

When the man refused to stand for the photo, court heard, Henderson grabbed him by the neck and lifted him to his feet.

Henderson held the homeless man still while the photo was taken, then delivered two “knee strikes” to the man.

Henderson then pushed the man’s head into the side of his police truck while loading him into the vehicle.

“This type of police behaviour erodes public confidence in police, which is essential in our democracy,” Crown prosecutor Andrew Vandersluys said in seeking a sentence of 12 months of probation.

Henderson claimed to have actually lifted the homeless man by his shoulder, not his neck.

He said he held him by the neck to keep him still once he was on his feet and also said any injuries sustained by the man while being loaded into his police vehicle were accidental.

Henderson admitted to kneeing the victim multiple times.

Defence lawyer Neville McDougall asked for a conditional discharge, meaning Henderson would have no criminal record if he completes a period of probation without incident.

“I fully take responsibility for this,” Henderson said in court.

“I’m sorry for my actions. It’s been very embarrassing, humbling and it’s gave me a lot of time to reflect.”

Court heard Henderson spent three months performing administrative duties and more than eight months on stress leave.

He returned to work as a traffic member in August.

Kamloops provincial court Judge Roy Dickey said he will need some time to think about Henderson’s sentence and doesn’t expect to have a decision before Christmas.

Lawyers will return to court on Dec. 13 to set a sentencing date.

© 2018 Kamloops This Week

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