A BC Cannabis Store employee who grabbed a police officer by the neck before biting and then spitting blood at the constable was unsuccessful on Monday in her bid to avoid a criminal conviction — and now her job could be on the line.
Alyssa Safraj pleaded guilty in Kamloops provincial court to one count each of assaulting a peace officer and resisting or obstructing a peace officer.
The 24-year-old came to the attention of police on April 3, 2018, after a security guard near the former Stuart Wood elementary downtown called 911 to report an intoxicated person. When a Mountie arrived and attempted to handcuff Safraj, she began accusing police of being racist and became violent. Safraj grabbed the female police officer by the neck and attempted to choke her. Another officer and the nearby security guard helped subdue Safraj and get her into a police vehicle.
While Safraj was being booked into RCMP holding cells on Battle Street, she bit the hand of the same female officer, who responded by striking Safraj in the chin. Safraj then spat blood at the Mountie.
Safraj was remorseful in court.
“I just want to apologize for my actions,” she said.
Court heard Safraj had been on a bad first date prior to the incident. Her defence lawyer, Lisa Scruton, said the man Safraj was with made racist comments about her, which led to Safraj drinking and becoming very intoxicated.
Scruton said Safraj’s experience on the date led to her violent interaction with police.
Safraj, who has no prior criminal record, moved to Kamloops last year from Ontario after being transferred by her then-employer, a cannabis sales company. She was laid off in the summer, but found work with BC Cannabis Stores, where she is an assistant manager at the Sahali outlet.
Safraj was seeking a conditional discharge — a sentence that would have resulted in no criminal record — citing a requirement she meet the conditions of a security clearance with the government-run cannabis store. A criminal conviction could put her job in jeopardy, court heard.
The Crown was seeking 30 days of house arrest.
Provincial court Judge Ellen Burdett turned down Safraj’s request for a discharge and placed her on a one-year probation term, with conditions requiring she abstain from alcohol and drugs — except cannabis.
“This was a serious assault on a police officer that went on for a prolonged period,” the judge said. “Not only was there an attempt to choke the police officer, but also biting, which is a serious assault.”