Provincial court Judge Randall William Callan will deliver his decision in the assault case against Const. Andy Yung on April 22 in Williams Lake.
Yung is charged with one count of assault against Jamie Haller, who suffered injuries while in custody of the Williams Lake RCMP in September 2010. Haller was 17 years old at the time.
Callan reserved judgment at the end of a three-day trial in Williams Lake provincial court, which ran Jan. 21 – 23, after hearing evidence from police, civilian witnesses, a civilian employee at the RCMP cells, Yung, the complainant Jamie Haller, her mother Martina Jeff and their family doctor.
Haller testified she was punched repeatedly in the face while handcuffed in the back of a police car.
Yung testified he hit her several times in the face after she had kicked him in the face, and held him in a scissor-lock with her legs and would not let go.
In his final arguments, defence lawyer Rod Gregory said Yung and the other police officers responded to a call for help that night, and did everything they could to help Haller.
They tried to calm her down, and were met with profanity, agitation, assaultive and completely irrational behaviour, despite their repeated attempts to give her assistance, he said, adding she was also agitated against her mother when she arrived at the scene.
Gregory suggested Haller’s recollection of the events was a “memory of convenience,” and that she only remembered portions of the incident.
When Yung was cross-examined, he said he did not want to do what he had to do, Gregory added.
“No one there wanted to take this young person to the detachment. He didn’t want to have to touch her. He testified quite candidly, ‘I hit her as hard as I could because the pain technique that I used for one or two seconds wasn’t working.”
Gregory described it as an unusual set of circumstances for the police, who were trying to help someone who they perceived to be a victim of a crime.
He urged Callan to find that Crown had not proven the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Crown counsel Lori Stevens said the judge should and can reject Yung’s evidence, describing it “as inconsistent, unreliable and in some instances almost fantastical.”
Stevens said Yung described himself as concerned for his safety, yet he opened the car door to try and calm Haller down, putting his face in the car with no consideration of being kicked or spat at.
Additionally, she said it was not an emergency situation, even if Haller was kicking the police car.
“He was attempting to stop an already controlled person. She was handcuffed. She wasn’t going anywhere.”
She described Haller as a young, angry, vulnerable girl, who on the night of the incident, was intoxicated.
“In my submission, the strongest evidence are the photos of the injuries themselves,” Stevens said, adding Haller suffered through something that caused her serious injury.
In closing, Stevens said Yung should be convicted of assault. She suggested he could have taken Haller to the detachment, located five minutes away, and then tried to investigate. “Instead, his overriding concern is for the car.”
When cross-examined by Stevens, Yung said the police were trying to determine whether or not Haller could go home with her mother instead of going to city cells.
After the trial Williams Lake RCMP Insp. Warren Brown said police officers are not above the law.
“Where there is an allegation that they have broken the law it’s important to have that allegation investigated, as independently as possible, and if there is evidence of an offence, they will be brought before the courts. That has happened in this case. I will respect the outcome and findings of that decision,” Brown said.