Ten years after an Edmonton police officer used a taser on a young man, it appears the case could soon be coming to a close.
In October of 2002, Constable Mike Wasylyshen tasered then 16-year-old Randy Fryingpan eight times in 68 seconds, while he was passed out in the back of a suspected stolen car. Last month, a police disciplinary hearing concluded the tasering was an excessive use of force by Wasylyshen.
With a penalty for Wasylyshen to come down on Monday, the disciplinary hearing’s presenting officer believes he should receive a suspension without pay of between 80 to 100 hours, or about two and a half weeks. Wasylyshen’s lawyer is asking for less, and that isn’t sitting well with some.
“I don’t think that the penalty proposed by the presenting officer is adequate,” said Fryingpan’s lawyer Tom Engel adding, “I can’t imagine why the citizens of Edmonton would think ‘OK, that’s fine, he can continue being a police officer’.”
Engel calls what Wasylyshen did “cruel and unusual treatment” and believes a two and a half week punishment would send a bad message to the public. Engel says he would like to see Wasylyshen fired for what he did.
“As the police like to say, it’s time to get tough on crime,” Engel said adding, “It’s time for the penalties to reflect the seriousness of the misconduct, they haven’t in the past.”
Muriel Venne, chairperson of the Aboriginal Commission on Human Rights & Justice says she was surprised with how small the proposed penalty was.
“(The penalty) seemed miniscule to what I believed the offence was,” Venne said adding, “I think it trivializes it. I think it says to the police force ‘well, you know, you’ll get your hand slapped but don’t worry about it’.”
However, there are those who believe the penalty is rather significant. President Sergeant Tony Simioni with the Edmonton Police Association says a two and a half week pay suspension is significant and harsh.
“(It’s) a very significant monetary penalty and one that no member of the public in a criminal court would have ever received.”
He says Wasylyshen doesn’t believe he did anything wrong, however, says he is ready to take the punishment and move on.
“He still basically disagrees that he did anything wrong per se. There’s a lot of, what he feels, misrepresentation of the facts,” Simioni said adding, “It’s ridiculous it took this length of time. This will stay on his record another 5 years. So effectively, 15 years of a 25 year career this spectre of this matter has been hanging over him.”
The presiding officer will decide what penalty Wasylyshen will receive, on Monday afternoon. However, there is a chance Fryingpan and his lawyer could appeal the penalty, which could in fact lengthen the case, yet again.
With files from Fletcher Kent.