Halifax police officer denies in court that excessive force used in incident with homeless man
A Halifax police officer says he “100 per cent disagrees” with the suggestion that he used excessive force in a 2018 incident that left a homeless man injured.
Const. Laurence Gary Basso was cross-examined by Crown attorney Sylvia Domaradzki during a trial in which he faces charges of assault causing bodily harm and mischief in relation to his notes regarding the alleged incident.
Domaradzki’s cross-examination took Basso through a surveillance video showing his encounter with Patrice Simard outside of the Metro Turning Point in Halifax.
In February 2018, Basso was called to the Metro Turning Point to remove Simard from the property because the homeless man had allegedly been consuming alcohol inside of the shelter.
In court, Basso disagreed with Domaradzki’s claim that he knew he would be arriving to find Simard heavily intoxicated.
Instead, Basso told the court that he simply wanted to get Simard to leave the property without arresting him.
The surveillance video played in court showed Basso arriving at the shelter to find Simard sitting outside.
In the video, Basso begins the exchange by speaking to Simard from his parked police cruiser for roughly three minutes before stepping outside.
The Crown suggested to Basso that in the video, he appeared angry when he stepped outside of his vehicle and that he “violently” grabbed Simard by his shoulder.
Basso denied being angry, instead suggesting he was just acting in a stern manner to get Simard off of the property.
Throughout the cross-examination, Basso stood by his belief that his punch to Simard’s head was only in response to a punch Simard first made to his leg.
The surveillance video doesn’t show Simard punching Basso’s leg, but the officer suggested that is because the video only shows one angle.
The Crown theorized that Simard never punched Basso at all and that the man was instead trying to reach for his backpack, which Basso was holding, because backpacks are known to be “very valuable” to people experiencing homelessness.
Basso denied having any knowledge of how valuable the backpack may have been to Simard.
In the surveillance video, Simard is seen dropping to the ground and appears not to move for about 10 seconds after being punched by Basso.
Basso denied the Crown’s theory that Simard was unconscious for those 10 seconds.
Medical records show Simard’s nose was broken following the incident.
Cross-examination of Basso has concluded, and the surveillance video is expected to be released to the media on Friday.
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